Dr Leandro Herrero on...Employee Engagement

Please read on for a brief snippet of Dr Herrero’s latest thinking on Employee Engagement. To download the full paper, please complete the brief form at the bottom of the page.

Imagine a group of 50 people with some connection between them, maybe a neighbourhood, or a company, or simply a loose set of connections. We take the body temperature of each of them, and we calculate the average. It’s 36.3 degrees. And we declare that to be normal. Because it is, according to what has conventionally been agreed. The group temperature is 36.3°.

About 15% of the group is composed of very ill people, but their illness does not manifest itself in changes in body temperature. Their thermometers don’t say anything about that. One can be very ill with a normal temperature, and also marginally ill, with a common cold for example, and have a serious temperature. The ‘average temperature’ does not tell us much. Certainly, with the thermometer data we have no idea what will happen to the very ill. ‘The average’ translated into a number does not have a predictive value.

Six months later we repeat the exercise and, for whatever reason, the average temperature is now 36.9°. This is still normal in medical terms. Something is going on here. Maybe. But we don’t know what to make of it. Over those 6 months, a few of the very ill died, some who were normal became ill and a small group had been infected with Covid. But we are not looking at any of these things. The average temperature is still OK. We are in charge of temperatures, and we report on temperatures. We can also report an increase of 0.3 degrees over a period of 6 months.

We’ve increased our knowledge of ‘thermometer management’ a bit, and we have a bigger set of temperatures, a larger database. We can say this confidently. Overall, everything remains ‘normal’.

The absurdity of this thinking may be too caricature-like to take it seriously but it’s not miles away from what people are still doing in the area of Employee Engagement, which still dominates the airtime in some corporations, even if it is with less intensity these days. We look at scores, compare scores and celebrate or deprecate its ups and downs. It’s, by and large, score management…

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