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  • Writer's pictureSETH MCCOLLEY

Engagement. It's a Two-Way Street

There's no shortage of blog posts, surveys, white papers and articles today talking about Employee Engagement. A quick Google search pulled up 4,640,000 hits as I'm writing this blog post.

I get it. Employee Engagement is important.

But what about Manager Engagement? A similar Google search yielded only 84,800 hits. Granted, not everything can be measured by Google results, but "manager engagement" doesn't even get it's own Wikipedia page. Very telling, no?

Why am I talking about this? Check this out...

I was catching up with a good friend and former colleague last week, checking in with him as I knew he'd been going through a rough patch at work. As he was bringing me up to speed on some recent organizational changes and the increased tension between him and his manager, I could sense the frustration in his voice. This is a guy who's done everything the company's asked him to do - fix broken markets, deliver solid results, relocate his family multiple times, etc. When you think of the word "trooper" (in the business sense), there's a picture of this guy next to the definition.

As we started wrapping up the conversation, he shared that he had just hit his 30-year service anniversary...and received nothing. Not an email, not a phone call, not a text message, not a carrier pigeon...nothing from his manager. The disappointment in his voice was what hit me the hardest.

How does that even happen?

What's the matter? It's only recognition. 

Some of you reading this might think I'm being soft. Maybe so. After all, I did spend the early part of my HR career managing the service award program at M.W. Kellogg (now KBR). I was the guy who sent the catalogs to employees, ordered the service awards from the vendor, physically inspected the service awards in the shipping area, troubleshot the vendor mistakes, sent the service awards to the managers for presentation, etc. Back in the day, service awards, and the pomp and circumstance surrounding them, were sort of a big deal.

Here is what I do know - to this guy, it mattered. A phone call, an email, even a text acknowledging his time with the organization and I wouldn't be writing this blog post.

'Blocking and Tackling'

For you people managers reading this, be engaged. Recognizing your employees' birthdays and service anniversaries is fundamental. It's also easy. I'll can still recall the day that one of the VP/GMs I worked with at AT&T Wireless got a voicemail from the CEO, wishing him a happy birthday. This guy was like a kid in candy store. He was so energized, so excited and dare I say engaged. He was so impressed by the fact that Dan Hesse had taken the time to call him and wish him a happy birthday. The fact is, Dan Hesse did this for all of his senior leaders. The HR pros reading this understand that there's a great deal of administration, behind the scenes, to make something like this happen. But it happened.

Thirty years. No call, no email, no text. Not even a piece of lint...

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