Employee Engagement - Irritation or Agitation?

by Chris Young

Dan Pink To Sell Is HumanOver the New Year I had the opportunity to crack Dan Pink's latest book - "To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others".

Another superb Dan Pink book.

In a nutshell, Dan says we are all in sales now.

I agree.

As the CEO or executive in your business, you are selling every day.  You are not just selling to your Customers but also selling employee team members on your ideas, to do the right things the right way, to approach your business the way you would approach it.

In coaching CEOs and executives, I often hear, "How do I get my people to do what needs to be done?"  This is a simple and excellent question with a complicated answer - until now.

Dan Pink references Larry Ferlazzo who makes a distinction between "irritation" and "agitation".

Irritation is "challenging people to do something we want them to do."  By contrast, "agitation is challenging them to do something that they want to do."

Do your employee team members do what they do because they want to or have to?

With employee engagement and results...  "Want to" creates much more energy than "have to".  

Reflect for a few minutes.

  • What questions are you asking of your employee team members that you are not getting the answer you seek?
  • What requests are you making that are getting less-than-desired results?
  • What results are you dissatisfied with?

Keep in mind...  Whatever is happening on your "ship" - good or bad - it is your fault and your fault completely.  You do not get to "pass the buck".  "Idiot employees" are people you hired, you shaped, in a world you created or allowed to be created.

Clearly more employee engagement is "good" over less.  Engaging an employee team member means...  You get more done with the same / fewer resources.  Engaged employee team members do things more in a manner that reflects the "right way." Engaged employee team members "own their job" - they come up with ideas to save money, make money, and add value to the Customer.

If you truly want to grow your business...  Improve employee engagement.  Following are five actions you should take right now to improve employee engagement by agitating more and irritating less.  

  1. Decide.  Decide what kind of company / organization / team you want to be.  Is fear a value?  Do you want to inspire the soul - to engage employee team members - Customers?
  2. Commit.  If you do not like where your company is right now.  Then commit to taking real action.  
  3. Use a personality assessment to understand how your employee team members "think".  If you are not using a valid - personality profile / assessment, you are much more likely to be "irritating" your employee team members once hired.  When you know how each employee team member thinks, you can communicate with or "agitate" them much, much more effectively.  
  4. Engage your employee team members for ideas, concerns, answers to problems.  "No one of us is as smart as all of us" and your employees have great ideas waiting to be tapped.  Are you tapping them?  Are you engaging them to share their experiences (personal and professional)?  Are you engaging their soul at work?  If not - you are much more likely to be irritating than agitating.
  5. Remove low performers and those who do not believe or have the capacity to believe in what you do.  Low performers and non-believers always, always require more irritation and less agitation to get the right things done consistently.  A non-believer sucks the lifeblood out of the team and company.

It is your life and your business.  Make sure your actions are in alignment with the results you seek.  The key...  You must slow down to speed up.  There are no shortcuts in engaging employees.  Agitating properly takes time with a significant potential return on investment.

Sales Personality Aptitude Test Sample Assessment