Win the Heart: How to Create a Culture of Full Engagement by Mark Miller. Barrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 146 pages. 2019
In the fourth book of his High Performance series, written as a leadership fable, Mark Miller tells us that CEO Blake Brown notices that something isn’t right. His organization’s performance has plateaued, the competition is gaining ground, and yet he feels that nobody seems to notice. Instead, the employees just seem to be going through the motions. They are not fully engaged. And if people see their work as just a job, why would they bring their full, best self to work? In discussing this problem, Blake and his team settle on a definition of engagement being “level of care”.
Blake and his team decide to send an employee engagement survey to their employees. The lack of response to the initial request speaks volumes about their lack of engagement. After a meeting with employees encouraging them to complete the survey, the results that came back were staggering. According to the vendor who administered the assessment, the engagement was awful, tragically low.
Blake seeks out his first mentor Debbie Brewster for advice. In the course of that meeting, he finds out that his father had spent years studying the topic of engagement and his plan was to write a book about what he was learning, but he died before he could do so.
Blake then visits with his Mom who gives him the box of materials that his father was accumulating for the book. What Blake and his wife Megan find in the box makes no sense to them at first, and they decide to organize the pieces on their basement wall like a police detective might. They soon get enough clarity from the clues to make five trips – to Selma, Alabama where they get the first piece of the puzzle – Connection. They then travel to Italy, where they get the second piece – Environment. Their next stop is Greece, where they get their third piece – Affirmation. They then stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where they get their fourth piece – Responsibility. Blake brings their findings back to his team who then try to find some real-life examples of these four characteristics, while Blake and Megan make a final brief trip to Texas.
Giving what Blake, Megan and his team now know, can they turn the ship around and increase employee engagement? Right now, employee skepticism is high and trust is low.
This would be an excellent book for leaders to read and discuss with their teams. Mark Miller gives us an interesting story and a challenge for all of us to increase engagement with our teams, whether they be in business, non-profit, sports, church, etc.