For 35 years, Chicago, Illinois–based consultant Richard Axelrod pioneered and championed the use of employee engagement to effect large-scale organizational change. He believes that times are different now. To achieve change and to thrive in today’s marketplace requires maximizing employee engagement more than ever before. The importance of this is immense—it’s very simply a matter of survival.
In his latest book, Terms of Engagement: New Ways of Leading and Changing Organizations (Berrett-Koehler, 2010),
Axelrod says that to survive and thrive in times of economic downturn, all energies must be applied to recognizing how to get the absolute maximum quality and productivity out of the people you have. Some of the companies that have done so include:
- Boeing Commercial Engineering, which had a 40 percent improvement in employee satisfaction
- Hewlett-Packard Microelectronics Division, which had an 18 percent productivity improvement each year for five years
Axelrod finds considerable support for the engagement approach in the newest breakthroughs in neuroscience, which help explain how the old change management actually works against creative problem solving. Simply put, there are two human responses: we move away from threats and we move toward rewards. When the threat response in the brain kicks in, creativity and innovation decrease. When the reward response in the brain kicks in, creativity and innovation increase.
Completely revised, updated, and expanded, Terms of Engagement offers up an impressive suite of specific strategies on how to engage employees at work. It gives every
manager and staff person the skills and concepts that until now have resided primarily in the hands of facilitators and consultants. This book captures lessons learned during 35 years of helping management teams develop
their business strategies. The anecdotal stories offer important lessons and make for an enjoyable read.