Episode#55 – Build it

Build it

by Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey


The book in one sentence

“The defining metric of employee engagement is not an employee engagement score, but business results.”


My personal opinion

Well, that I believe in employee engagement as an important factor of an organisation’s success I have not to mention here I guess. To get an understanding of what employee engagement means and how it can impact business, Glenn Elliott and Debra Corey wrote a wonderful book!

An engaged employee is defined by the authors if she or he 1) understands and believes in the purpose, mission and objectives of the organisation, 2) understands her or his role and contribution, and 3) wants the organisation to be successful, meaning to prioritise the organisation’s need higher than her or his own.

Equally, there are three areas of improvement you will see with engaged employees:

  • Effective decision making, because an engaged employee understands the big picture of the company.
  • Higher productivity, because an engaged employee identifies her- or himself with the purpose of the company.
  • Increased innovation, because an engaged employee wants to make the company successful.

Good, so employee engagement is a valuable topic you will say. But how exactly can you create an engaging environment for your employees?

Therefore, Elliott and Corey developed the so called Engagement Bridge™️, which focuses on five parts.

Open and honest communication, leading to transparency, is the foundation of the Engagement Bridge™️ as it is necessary to build trust between the employees and the organisation: “Without trust, it’s very hard to imagine an engaged culture where people voluntarily put the company, and its mission and purpose, first.”

Purpose, mission and values are strengthening the connection between an employee and the organisation: “There is something deeply human about the need to feel part of something bigger than yourself – something that feels worthwhile, something that feels purposeful and worth the sacrifice of your time.”

Leadership and management are two separate aspects but, at the end, closely linked together. The definition describes them as “leadership is what the company says it will do, while management is what the company actually does.” To create an authentic company culture, leadership and management need to be aligned.

Job design, learning and recognition: “to be able to be engaged, someone has to be in a job that has some degree of autonomy and accountability, and produces meaningful results that are seen and recognised.”

Pay and benefits, workspace, and wellbeing are the so called underpinning elements of the engagement strategy. You can see them more as hygiene factors – alone, these elements will not increase engagement within your organisation. But without these “your bridge will be built on unstable ground.”

What I really like about the book are the many real-life examples like the retail company Mark & Spencer with 85.000 employees and 1.000 stores. Stores with high employee engagement are getting a higher service rating and lower staff absence compared to the stores with low employee engagement: “It turns out that engaged employees deliver better customer service and take less time off sick.”


To whom I would recommend this book

Employee engagement is not a fancy trend which just occurred. It is a vital component of a company’s success.

Therefore, I can recommend this book to all levels of management.

Additionally, this book will be a great inspiration for HR professionals as employee engagement supports their goals.


What I learned from this book

  • “Treating people better gets better business results.”
  • An interesting phenomena of organisational communication and transparency is the “Iceberg of Ignorance”. The theory by Sidney Yoshida, derived from his studies in 1989, shows that around 4% of the company’s frontline problems are known by the top executives, 9% by the middle management and 74% by the frontline managers and 100% by the employees. Elliott and Corey are recommending, to avoid the “Iceberg”, you have to work on it from different angles. “At the top, we need to help executives understand where the information is, and coach and develop them in ways to discovery that information in a threatening way. […] At the frontline, we need to enable, encourage and reward people who speak up and make sure that they are free from fear of judgement or reprisal.”
  • An important part of open and honest communication is repetition: “The greatest enemy of communication is the illusion that it has occurred.”
  • Communication is not a one-time activity. Is has to happen continually. E.g. communicating the company’s values: “[…] values are not a poster on the wall; […] run programs like value of the month, […] prioritise in induction and […] consistently look to share real-life stories where […] values have been lived.”
  • Top management support is crucial for the employee engagement strategy.
  • “To be effective, recognition has to be continuous, timely, fair, relevant and personal. It’s the thought that counts every time; money and prizes are secondary.”
  • “You can never create engagement by paying people more.”


Want to read this book?

Check it out on Amazon.com – Build it by Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey



Thanks to the publisher for printing such a great book!