Even More Employee Engagement

by Edward Henkler on June 17, 2014

My previous employee engagement post talked about the Voice of the Unheard, ensuring you hear from the biggest component of your workforce.  The Unheard are the “worker bees” who actually do the work of your company and I had included examples such as bench scientists, mechanics, and back shift manufacturing folks.  There is another silent group that is much smaller but might have at least as much potential to contribute.  I call them the Voice of the Wise; unfortunately they are more often tagged as wiseguys.  These are the mid-level professionals who are the technical professionals at whatever your company does.  In a pharmaceutical company, they are Director-level scientists with twenty plus years in the lab.  They do not seek managerial opportunities and can often come across as negative and disengaged but no one understands the daily business operations better than them.

 Voice of the Wise or Wiseguys

They are unfairly branded as negative and disengaged as they have no interest in the company’s bureaucracy and senior management opportunities.  Instead, their motivation comes from being a better scientist, inventor, teacher, or skilled craftsman than anyone else.  Unfortunately, their input is often marginalized as they aren’t very interested in the managerial politics and the “politicians” tend to avoid them.

I believe there’s an opportunity to involve them in critical business decisions such as merger & acquisition, re-structuring, and other major organizational change initiatives.  Perhaps it’s a “minority report” or contrarian viewpoint which better informs the ultimate decision makers.  I’m aware of a fairly recent example where a major acquisition was concluded with much fanfare and with lofty expectations for its potential.  The Voice of the Wise told me that the acquisition had merit but it would take much longer to reach the forecast performance levels.  They were right and the pressure to succeed on an unrealistic timeline eventually destroyed a number of careers and also reduced the impact of the acquisition.  Eventually, the acquisition was severed with a small number of winners and many losers.

How might things have been different if the Voice of the Wise had been heard?  It is certain that they would have felt more engaged and valued.  It is also possible that a better decision would have been made or that more realistic expectations would have been established.

Can you afford to marginalize any of your employees?  I would suggest No…..

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: