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WE: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement

WE: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement

By: Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse
Publisher: Wiley
Publication Date: January 2011
ISBN: 978-0470767436
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 1, 2011

In an economy where the job market is tight, both employers and employees need to restructure the way they think about the illusory belief that work and life are separate entities. Many times I’ve emailed people on weekends with a work related question and have been surprised when I’ve received an almost instantaneous response. Naturally I would think that they needed to get a life, but now realized they were fully engaged in their work as was I. There is no such thing as “entitlement” these days and instead of trying to balance our lives with work, we need to learn to blend them together. "The 'W' approach is one that says stop striving for a work-life ‘balance,’ and begin to craft a work-life ‘blend.’” (pg. 26) Of course if you are a clock watcher and have your eyes on that second hand as it approaches five o’clock you do need to get a life … and a new job.

Your job, on one level, defines who you are and “it should be easy to see how one’s employment plays a critical part in who you are and how you experience life.” (pg. 36) You’ll learn about the spillover and crossover effects of your job and how they impact your life and the lives of others, specifically that of your family. If you think that you “leave work at the office” you might just want to rethink that platitude after reading about the psychological effects of work satisfaction or dissatisfaction on the family dynamic. Did you know that “only 45% of workers in the United States were satisfied with their jobs?” (pg. 213) Probably no big surprise there and almost everyone is aware of the divorce rate here in the United States.

As we learn to craft a work-life blend we also learn that both the employer and employee need to blend into “We” in order to become “truly engaged at work.” This book is not written for one, but for both and each will take away material that will strengthen the bond, fully engage both parties, increase performance, profits, and provide an enriching environment to thrive in. For example one statement claims that “… the factors that had a substantial effect on levels of satisfaction were the intrinsic factors, such as having autonomy, utilizing one’s strengths, learning new things, and having control over how to get the job done.” (pg. 49)

If you are a square peg in a round hole in your chosen profession you can still be successful, but most likely you are not engaged. You’ll learn that “to get that deep feeling of engagement in your career, you need to find the intersection—the bull’s-eye—of three important things.” … passion, purpose, and pay. (pg. 58) Hey, no one said it was easy and in fact it’s a downright tough thing to accomplish. You’ll learn the value of having a BHAG (a “big hairy audacious goal”) and can use it as the “North star for your path.” In this book you’ll also learn about how to ferret out the archetype of companies. Can I become fully engaged in this type of work? Is this person going to fit with our company?

Oftentimes people feel as if they are adrift on the high seas in a rowboat when it comes to work issues, but WE can come together as our work-life blend comes together and WE can become more fully engaged with our work. You can learn to be the CEO of your career. “The power of knowing your style and the culture of your employer is that it gives you a model to work in and language to navigate with.” (pg. 101) You’ll learn how to create a ‘personal career board, how to network, you’ll learn about the importance of personal research and development, and discover little vignettes like the importance of educational levels. Employers will learn about leadership, harmonic teams, how to spot an engaged employee, disengagement , what exactly employee engagement means (pg. 165), the value of recognition, trust, and many other facets of engagement that can add to employee satisfaction and the bottom line.

This is *THE* book that both employers and employees need to foster a sense of unity in the workplace. I must admit that most business books I read are boring and redundant, as they snatch material from other books in order to simply sell a book and not an idea. I was so fully engaged in this book I spent a couple of days reading it. There are “Bonus Material” sections on this book’s website that can be accessed by passwords given in the book. I watched one and it was excellent, but I might recommend that people read the book from cover to cover and then go back to watch the videos as they absorb the material. The book is realistic, impressive, and based on solid research. This opinion-based book was formulated by experienced men who “listened” to millions of workers who answered questionnaires. In the introduction Tony Hsieh states that “Our ultimate goal is to create a culture of happy, engaged, and productive employees.” Yep, I think this book has the right formula!

Quill says: If you want to be a fully engaged employee or have one, this is THE book to read!

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