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Dan MacPherson: “Employees [will] make up their own reality”

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Days of Whine and Poses

“At least you have a job.”

That used to be a compelling argument for paying attention and doing the work—but not so much today.


StarTribune columnist Neal St. Anthony recently teased out a few details about our work attitudes. He cited statistics about employee engagement from the National Employee Engagement Study conducted by Modern Survey:

 Employee disengagement among U.S. workers rose this spring to a record 32 percent, MacPherson said of the semiannual National Employee Engagement Study. Another 36 percent are “unengaged’’ — or not fully committed on the job.

Meanwhile, the percentage of fully engaged employees fell to 10 percent this spring, down 3 points from last fall. The remaining 22 percent of us working stiffs are “somewhat’’ into our work.

St. Anthony talked with Dan MacPherson, a founding partner with Modern Survey, to get behind the numbers. MacPherson laid blame for disengagement on both employees and bosses—which seems reasonable. And then MacPherson did a good job of filling out the picture of why these things are so. The column is worth reading. And this quote caught my attention:

“It takes three to five years to change an organization,” MacPherson said. “If senior leaders don’t communicate effectively, employees make up their own reality.”

Three to five years to change an organization seems optimistic. And for those bosses still using power poses and monologue to enforce their will—I would argue such communication is near the heart of our problem with disengagement. Maybe we are just beginning to get a sense of exactly how vision for our day-to-day work oils the cogs that keep everything running.

MacPherson is dead right that vision will emerge, one way or another. The question bosses and employers should be asking is “What true thing can I contribute to that vision?” and perhaps, “What do my employees already know about this emerging vision?”


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

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