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How do you measure engagement?

In his blog post, “The Pursuit of Busyness,” Andrew McAfee recounts an anecdote about Henry Ford.

Ford once brought in an efficiency expert to assess his operations.  The consultant expressed reservations about one employee in particular.  “Every time I go by his office he’s just sitting there with his feet on his desk.  He’s wasting your money.”  Ford replied, “That man once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars.  I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.”

We value busyness because it’s easy to observe, but it’s a poor metric for employee engagement.  The danger in overemphasizing and rewarding busyness is that it feeds a culture where employees worry more about keeping up appearances than about solving client problems.  Research by Gallup and others shows that engaged employees are more productive, profitable, customer-focused, safer, and more likely to withstand temptations to leave.

The common thread among engaged employees across all roles and demographics is a genuine passion for work.  Seth Godin once put it this way, “If you’ve ever met someone who is passionate about tax accounting or warehouse roofing systems, you understand the power that this passion can have in transforming a client.  The challenge is to hire passionate people and then give them the room and support to actually care.”

Google famously requires their engineers to spend 20% of their time, one of five work days, on projects they are passionate about.  AdSense, which now accounts for 30% of Google’s revenue, was a product of this policy.  Not every organization is Google, but if you’re taking a harder look at your team’s engagement beyond the busyness factor, you’re already a step ahead.  Engagement is always a key element we look for when conducting assessments for our clients.


CMA offers services including Talent Assessment and Management, Coaching, employee engagement surveys, and our Leadership Advantage program for companies operating both domestically and internationally.  For more information, contact Dan Bean or Joe Hoffman, or visit us on the web at