The Enemy of Engagement by Mark Royal & Tom Agnew - Book review

The Enemy of Engagement

Put an End to Workplace Frustration--and Get the Most from Your Employees

By: Mark Royal, Tom Agnew

Published: October 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN-10: 0814417957
ISBN-13: 978-0814417959
Publisher: AMACOM

"Managers are bombarded with messages about how important it is to motivate and inspire their people. Very little attention, however, has been given to how managers can most effectively translate employee motivation into optimal levels of performance", write leaders in the employee research division at Hay Group, Mark Royal and Tom Agnew, in their research based and very practical book The Enemy of Engagement: Put an End to Workplace Frustration--and Get the Most from Your Employees. The authors describe how managers and employees are frustrated by overwhelming demands for more productivity and higher performance, but not provided with the necessary support to enable their employees to do their jobs properly and to achieve their goals.

Mark Royal (photo left) and Tom Agnew recognize that the true barrier to achieving peak performance is the workplace itself, and not some proposed shortcomings on the part of the employees. With this key insight in place, and understood by managers and executives, the authors are then able to move toward overcoming the obstacles presented by the workplace environment itself.

When managers become clear that the problem doesn't lie solely with the worker, they can move toward transforming motivation into real results. The previous paradigm, of attempting to somehow fix the employees, led only to frustration on the part of both the workers and managers. The authors recommend addressing the problem at its root by initiating real improvements within the workplace.

Tom Agnew (photo left) and Mark Royal understand the importance of removing the often obscured but still frustrating roadblocks that inhibit or work against employee productivity. These organizational barriers must be removed, and support for workers put into place, to ensure that employees are able to achieve peak performance. Failure to remove the barricades results in lost productivity, weaker overall results, and frustrated employees who will leave the organization.

To counter the structural obstacles to high level productivity, the authors recommend some best practices and strategies:

* Create specific measurable goals and provide clear instructions for achieving them
* Provide employees with regular constructive feedback
* Empower employees to make the necessary decisions when required
* Rank investments in staff and resources to give employees job support
* Ensure that roles and assignments match the teams skills and reward results

For me, the power of the book is how Mark Royal and Tom Agnew present their crucial insight that the frustration felt by managers and employees is not the result of personal failings, but one that is endemic to the organization itself. By recognizing that the failure to translate motivation into peak performance is the result of obstacles existing within the organization itself, the authors are then able to offer real world proven techniques to break down those barriers to achievement.

The authors bolster their ideas and best practices with leading edge research into how the same obstacles exist in many organizations, and how leading companies have broken through those barricades successfully. Overall, the book is a powerful guide for transforming under performing companies, filled with frustrated managers and workers, into organizations where peak performance is achieved through a removal of the obstacles to productivity.

I highly recommend the very results oriented and insightful book The Enemy of Engagement: Put an End to Workplace Frustration--and Get the Most from Your Employees by Mark Royal and Tom Agnew, to any organizational leaders, executives, and managers seeking to remove the barriers within their company structure that work against managers and employees achieving their goals. This book guides executives toward transforming a barrier filled organization, where blame and frustration end in loss of performance and top employees, into one where goals are met and employee engagement is at a very high level.

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