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Defining employee engagement with the employee in mind: author Federman balances the nuts and bolts of employee engagement with insights into the individual's perspective.

Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance and Increasing Loyalty by Brad Federman Jossey-Bass, 2009 256 pages


The problem with defining employee engagement is that all too often the definition is biased toward the perspective and self-interest of the person defining it. Ask one of the big three human-capital firms what employee engagement is, and you'll get a definition that aligns magnificently with their service proposition. Ask an HR director and it will likely be closely aligned to compensation, performance, rewards and competencies, Ask someone at a brand agency and he'll say it's about ensuring that employees do their bit in delivering the customer experience.

All of these definitions are correct, in their own way, and the definition given by Brad Federman in his book Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance and Increasing Loyalty is as good as any. Federman's view comes from his expertise and perspective in management training, development and selection. He has clearly spent a lot of time in the trenches, one on one and in workshops, with people facing that difficult transition from individual contributor to leader.

Federman seems compelled to make the case for the value of employee engagement, covering the expected territories of business case, changing audience, demographics, globalization and technology issues, and, of course, measurement. But none of this content presents anything that hasn't been effectively covered elsewhere.

Yet Federman also brings perspectives from his own experience to the work. That's what makes this book a bit different: the balance of its focus. He spends a refreshing amount of time on the importance of selection, recruitment, turnover and succession planning, and their role in affecting future engagement of the individual. Employee engagement is as much emotional as it is rational, and Federman presents relevant insights into all-too-often ignored individual and relationship-based issues such as trust, egos, agendas, motivation and success. He underplays the importance of engaging people in the customer/client experience and the role the individual plays in delivering it with a short exploration at the book's conclusion.

This book would prove very useful to those considering engagement challenges as the result of the long cascading shadow of leaders, or organizations that need to help new leaders and managers transition to their new context. Many of the ideas, questions and concepts here could help senior practitioners shape approaches and strategies. It would probably prove less useful to those seeking more tangible, sleeves-rolled-up approaches to different engagement issues, since it fails to make the argument for, or provide any ideas about how to implement, some of the concepts raised.

about the reviewer

Kevin Keohane, ABC, is a client partner at London agency SAS, and global head of MS&L's Brand and Talent Network. He has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing and PR, HR consultancy, internal communication, change management and strategic branding.

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Title Annotation:bookmark; Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance and Increasing Loyalty
Author:Keohane, Kevin
Publication:Communication World
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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