October 21, 2014

Manage Your Employees With Full Engagement

Full Engagement

One fact about business (and life): Dealing with people can be like swimming in murky waters.  You just don’t know how people will respond to your comments. Murky rapidly becomes mysterious in business, because professionalism at times masks deeper personal expressions.  There’s a reason those funny asides on “The Office” don’t happen in public.

Full Engagement: Inspire, Motivate, and Bring Out the Best in Your People attempts to make the murky ocean of human behavior more clear.  It’s an honest business book written by Brian Tracy (@BrianTracy on Twitter), a renowned speaker and business consultant.  I was sent a copy by the publisher, and decided to give it a read.

As a Manager, Your Emotions Towards People Affect Their Motivation

That tenet is at the heart of the book, as Tracy explains in the introduction:

“The way you treat people, what you say and do that affects them emotionally, is more important in bringing out the best in people than all the education, intelligence or experience you might have at doing your job.”

The book is organized into nine chapters, all emphasizing a positive, people-centric outlook. But it’s far from being a motivational exercise. Tracy provides the context you need to manage people, infusing his advice with his years of consulting experience.  He believes that great managers generally do not start as great managers, so the writing explains how to become one in straightforward language.   There’s no psychological jargon to slow down the reader, and Full Engagement stays fully engaging for its 213 pages.

Weigh Your Situation Against the Actionable Ideas Suggested

While the book clearly is aimed at business teams, some of the material feels as if it overlooks some of the complexity of organizational structure. For example, a section called “Select the Right People” offers basic tips on job candidates, but no mention of supporting studies or data on hiring trends that can justify the suggestions. And when the tip to hire “people who will be hard workers” is offered, the 80/20 rule is used to explain why “80 percent of people working today are lazy.”

These tidbits do blend into memorable descriptions, like the “articulate incompetent” – a well-spoken candidate whom makes a great impression in the interview, but produces no valuable work once hired. Other concepts covered include:

  • Employee motivation tips that create satisfied employees and lead to sales
  • Selecting employee candidates by The Rule of Threes
  • Five Keys to Peak Performance in a work environment
  • The principle in Chapter Nine: Be The Best You Can Be

The most applicable suggestions in Full Engagement appear in the later parts of the book.  In the “Five Keys to Peak Performance” suggestion, Tracy suggests steps to involve the staff in identifying the values that should govern the relationships among team members.

In fact, Tracy’s advice and view may be most useful when you truly have no blueprint for inspiring employees.  Owners building their teams will benefit from this book. The book does not delve into the subject of remote teams, so read and judge for yourself how the material works with unique arrangements in employee management.

One note: While I was on the subway, another passenger noticed my copy of the book and struck up a conversation about Tracy. The passenger had read Tracy’s earlier books, and his suggestion made me look through a few of Tracy’s other titles.  My two cents: You may find some additional detail in past offerings from an author, and Tracy certainly has plenty to offer.

As I stated earlier, Full Engagement is written in accessible language, but may not serve every business’s operational needs.  It’s fine for those professionals who seek some basic motivation guidelines when working with others.  Readers seeking a more definitive framework and statistics may want to consider other books that could provide more detail.  But Full Engagement delivers a solid effort to put the often distant worlds of employee motivation and business results closer to being in the same orbit.

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1 Comment ▼

Pierre DeBois - Associate Book Editor


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

One Reaction

  1. Hi Pierre, I think we’ve all run into the “articulate incompetent” – I had to smile when I saw that. (Or, as one former co-worker said, “it’s the person who outruns their incompetence” leaving every job in a year or two, before their mistakes and lack of competence become too widely known.)

    Seriously, though, I’ve always thought of Brian Tracy as being a reknowned speaker and motivational coach. Your comments seem to square with that perception. There’s value to be had, but the value is motivational — it gets you to MOVE off inertia. And sometimes we need that kick in the pants. But it’s not necessarily the kind of detailed advice that tells you the steps to create new products or drive your business to profitability.

    Still, there’s a place for all kinds of advice, including motivational advice.

    – Anita

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