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What is your Engagement Model?

What must an Agile Transformation initiative have to be reasonably assured of success?

We "change agents" or Agilist, or Organizational Development peeps, or Trouble Makers, or Agile Coaches have been at this for nearly two decades now... one would think we have some idea of the prerequisites for one of these Transformations to actually occur.  Wonder if eight Agile Coaches in a group could come up with ONE list of necessary and sufficient conditions - an interesting experiment.  Will that list contain an "engagement model"?  I venture to assert that it will not.  When asked very few Agile Coaches, thought leaders, and change agents mention much about employee engagement in their plans, models, and "frameworks".  Stop and ask yourselves ... why?

Now good Organizational Development peeps know this is crucial, so I purposely omitted them from that list to query.

One, central very important aspect of your Agile Transformation will be your Engagement model.  

Since we know from the Agile Manifesto that Agility is all about people and their interactions, an agile transformation will be constrained by the level of personal engagement your workforce perceives they have with this initiative.  It better be extraordinarily high (top 10%).

If you cannot name your Engagement Model - it doesn't mean you don't have one.  It just means that you have no way to intelligently discuss and inquire about behaviors that you observe that appear to fall into the grouping of ... "but they said they wanted X, they just didn't do anything to acquire the knowledge or appear to want real X."  What is a thing that cannot be named?  It surely exist... it's just not easily discussed.  And since it exist - likely it is functioning quite well, unbenounced to you.

There is a high certainty that the unlabeled engagement model is a well functional status quo maintainment system.  The Gallup article by Jim Hater "Dismal Employee Engagement Is a Sign of Global Mismanagement", states:
In a nutshell, this global engagement pattern provides evidence that how performance is managed, and specifically how people are being developed, is misfiring. Most of modern business relies on annual reviews to provide feedback and evaluate performance. And yet the new workforce is looking for things like purpose, opportunities to develop, ongoing conversations, a coach rather than a boss, and a manager who leverages their strengths rather than obsessing over their weaknesses. They see work and life as interconnected, and they want their job to be a part of their identity.
While I see this as very core to the issue - his concussing will be that performance management will solve the problem.

Some interesting and shocking stats from Gallup:
According to our recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. The economic consequences of this global "norm" are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity. Eighteen percent are actively disengaged in their work and workplace, while 67% are "not engaged." This latter group makes up the majority of the workforce -- they are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas. They likely come to work wanting to make a difference --- but nobody has ever asked them to use their strengths to make the organization better.
When we get performance management right, engagement will naturally rise. 

Is this analysis a cart and horse locating problem?  Do we need better diagrams of which comes first?

Performance management is a trailing tool (not a leading indicator or lever).  Engagement comes well before performance management takes place.

How far back do we need to search to find that we already know the reasons for this misrepresentation of work motivation?  I'll refer you to the 1960s and Hertzberg's Two-Factor Theory of workplace motivations and "hygiene" - a term that captures all that performance management techniques are designed to measure and influence.

I noticed at the recent Consciousness Capitalism  conference 2018 in Dallas, TX; this model of organizational development toward a higher purpose; note where Transformation is in the model.  Does an organization need a minimal set of capabilities to successfully attempt an Agile Transformation?  I ponder this a lot...

Have you been in a large organization where you wished you had be recruited like the college level interns, and given the 3-6 months of professional development and relationship building opportunities that the interns received?  Our large organizations know how to engage employees - and they decide not to engage.  Is it any wonder that employees are hesitant to respond favorably to engagement surveys?

Are you in the beginning (or the nth reboot) of an Agile Transformation?

Not long ago, I started a gig with a mega corporation, well know in the Agile/Lean lore and history.  It was about a year after their change (the announcement of an attempt to adopt "Agile" ways).  The transformation was challenged.  A well respected colleague asked me what the engagement model was.  Reflecting... I had nothing, there was no talk, plan, model of how to engage the typical worker in the change that Executives had envisioned and hired SInc to perform.  I responded we don't have one.  He replied that we do... we just haven't payed any attention to it... most organizational change initiatives skip over this step... in a hurry to show action.  And in that hast, set the foundations for a poor first impression for those workers that are not very sure if they want to get on board, or hunker down.  The term for this ad-hoc - unaware method of engagement is imposition.  It is the typical, default, engagement model for any command and control organization.  Commonly used (exploited) by the Agile Industrial Complex to achieve their goals.

To validate this hypothesis - I reflected.  The division I was working with had been "invited" to a week long training, on the schedule for a month, and a few days before the training, said NO WAY.  We cannot take a week of all of our peoples time to do training.  The training was imposed - but the division leaders refused to allow anyone to participate.  This resulted in ZERO engagement.

So if you recognize this example - case study - as similar to your own situation... what might you do, next?
Could it be too late to create an engagement model?  Well, before you mutate the Performance Review Process so that engagement naturally rises find out.  Yes, it could be too late... how would we know?  Ask.  If the people that are most effected by the change are engaged and interested, it is NOT too late.  If they are disengaged (determine this) - it's too late.

If it is not too late... then work on that aspect of organizational change urgently.

Hierarchy of Needs & Engagement

Here are a few ideas:

OpenSpace Agility's Engagement model - steal this idea.
Success with Agile - What they don't tell you.
Invitation Based Changed

Or you could go study Organizational Leadership and Change models in the halls of academia.  They have know of this issues we are facing within our Agile community for decades, academics have studied and written about it for years.  It is captured well in the 30 or so books of John Kotter's Leading Change books.

See Also:
Gallup:  Dismal Employee Engagement is a Sign of Global Mismanagement by Jim Harter
Motivation and the Hertzberg Two-Factor Theory
Interesting Motivation links
HBR  - Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Majority of American Workers Not Engaged in Their Jobs Gallup


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