We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement (by: Rudy Karsan & Kevin Kruse)

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Disclosure: Let me begin by saying that Kevin Kruse contacted me and asked if I would read this book.  He indicated that he felt it would align well with the vision of One Grip Higher.  He sent the book to me to read it over.  I was skeptical at first, thinking he was simply trying to get marketing for his book.  As I read the book and have corresponded with Kevin, I have increasingly become a fan of his work and truly admire the message he and Rudy are trying to spread.  This is a must read book for anyone looking to increase their influence, effectiveness and integrity. What could be a better fit with the vision of One Grip Higher than that! I hope you enjoy this summary and that you consider buying a copy of the book and studying it in depth.  I certainly am many grips higher, and you will be as well.

Overview: This book is far more than just a book. Each chapter contains numerous interactive activities that make the book a sort of personalized learning journey. I found that as I completed these short simple activities, the truths and learning became more poignant. There are also great chapter summaries, videos, surveys, tests and other resources available on the authors website at www.wethebook.com… passwords at the end of each chapter if you buy the book that will provide access to the correlating online resources.

Part One: Career Life

Premise of Book: “There is nothing more important for a person or organization than full engagement.”

Take the “WE” test… When asked “What does your employer do?” do you answer with “They…” or “We…”

Chapter 1: The Return of the Work-Life Blend

A successful man continues to look for work even after he has found job.

History of Work: This chapter details the historical shift in how humanity views work. For all of history, prior to the Industrial Revolution, people had a work-life blend… Their work and their life were synonymous… You didn’t work 40 hours and then go do life… The idea of a 40 hour a week job emerges with the Industrial Revolution. Karsan and Kruse set up their book in this first chapter with a compelling argument that the fact pry work week is a thing of the past and that Successful careers in the modern world require a return to the work-life bend.

The “We Mindset”: In view of the reality of a modern world were change and technology makes transferable skills is supremely important, the “We Mindset” compels us that “it is dangerous to ever cede control over your future to someone else. If industries change, you must change with them… The importance of being a continual learner.

Other shifts taking place in the modern world… Moving from Job to Jobs as a career path, moving from 9-5 to get-it-done.

The next shift that modern professionals must make… Moving from a work-life balance to a work-life blend.

Chapter 2: Profits Drop When Your Spouse Kicks the Dog

In is chapter, the authors present contemporary and compelling research that indicates that full engagement at work has a direct correlation the following areas of our personal lives:

The average person ranks “worker/employee” as the fifth most important role in their life… This is very interesting and useful information when it comes to understanding the machinations of full engagement at work… The other areas of life must be healthy and nurtured if full engagement at work is to be achieved.

Areas Impacts by Engagement

  • Quality of our marriages – People who love their job have better marriages
  • Effectiveness of our parenting – people who love their job are better parents
  • Personal health – people who love their job have better health (heart, weight, cholesterol)
  • Life satisfaction – people who love their job have higher satisfaction in life

This works two ways… The quality of our work experience has a scientifically measurable effect on the way we act and live at home (and vice versa). Is research is astounding and fascinating. Check out the book for full details on the various studies the authors reference.

Factors influencing levels of satisfaction:

  • Having autonomy
  • Utilizing one’s strengths
  • Learning new things
  • Having control over how the job gets done

Part 2: The You in We

“The We approach to full engagement acknowledges equally the critical role of the worker – the individual… Quality leadership alone isn’t enough to unlock engagement… You hold e second key!”

Chapter 3: Aiming for the Career-Life Bull’s-Eye

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” Buddha

This chapter essential argues that the goal of a successful, engaged and fulfilled career-life is finding the center point in a three way venn diagram where the circles are Passion, Purpose and Pay.

Three P’s the Bulls-eye:

Passion: Your ultimate dream (what you should do)

In order to find the sweet spot of your passion you need to have a BHAG (from Jim Collins classic Built to Last). The authors suggest 3 steps for grappling with the Passion circle;

  • recognize that your dream is your dream
  • identify real world constraints
  • consider carefully who you share it with.

Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish” – Michelangelo

Purpose: Where you want to serve and contribute (who you want to help or serve)

This section contains several great activities to complete as you seek to zero in on understanding your purpose. These activities and the numerous others in the book make this much more than a book… Mine became almost a journal of reflection. On my own growth, career and leadership.

Pay: the standard of living you choose

Several research studies indicate that “once people have their core needs covers (e.g., food, shelter, basic health), more money has no impact on their overall life satisfaction.”

“For production, warehouse of clerical workers making less than $40,000 a year, income is positively related to employee engagement… However, as income rises for professional and technical workers and management, the relationship diminishes… income matters more to those making less, and in management, no relationship exists.”

The authors then spend the rest of this chapter discussing the merits and fits of variable pay scales…to this end, the chapters is business heavy (not that that is bad considering this is a business book). I would love to hear more about how this topic plays out in the public sector as it pertains to the rigidly fixed pays scales in the union environment.

Chapter 4: Your Kind of People

Components of an organizational culture:

  • Repetitive patterns of observable behavior
  • Group norms
  • Values
  • Habits of thinking
  • Mental models
  • Root metaphors
  • Symbols

The authors proceed throughout this chapter to details deco sine at they describe as the 12 archetypes of organizational culture. For each culture they provide descriptions, example organizations, values, strengths, weaknesses, and ways to know where or not a particular archetype would be a good fit for you personally.

The 12 Archetypes of Organizational Culture:

  • Ruler
  • Creator
  • Sage
  • Explorer
  • Innocent
  • Revolutionary
  • Hero
  • Magician
  • Jester
  • Everyperson
  • Lover
  • Caregiver

What to do if you find that you don’t fit in your organizational archetype? Either move, or find sub cultures with in your organization where your style and passion can flourish. Although the authors don’t explicitly say it… The undertone is that if you are living from your career-life bullseye, working your but off, your work will be rewarded and you will be noticed for the difference you are making.

Chapter 5: Do What Companies Do

Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan

This chapter essentially articulates the steps we must take in order to achieve or dreams, passions and desires. Basically, we are to act as the CEO of our lives. The authors suggest we ought to take the time to chart our career path deliberately. They suggest and expand on the following ideas for developing, monitoring and adjusting our career path:

  • Enlist a personal career board – people who love you and have a track record of willingness to give you tough advice, meet regularly for accountability, support and vision
  • Invest in research and development – Spend at least 5% of your income on personal professional development
  • Market solutions aggressively – Google yourself… That is your brand. Control your brand! “what you do, and what you write, still defines you.” “Half of personal marketingnis about what you’re known for – your brand – the other half is about reach…”
  • Think globally – this final portion of the chapter focuses in on the need to have a global perspective. The authors suggests that living and working overseas for a period of time is one of the best ways to develop the skills and tools to maximize your impact. They identify and discuss the following 12 character traits of these “multiple-patriates”: Openness, empathy, positivity, altruism, confidence, flexibility, team-orientation, work-focused, curiosity, learner, imagination, resilience

On Building Relationships: This chapter also contains a great section on the development and impact of relationships.  The authors approach relationship building from two polar opposite perspectives that compliment each other well. One strives after the develop,net and maintainence of “level 5″ (super strong) relationships, while the other seeks to expand his reach by cultivating what they refer to as the “strength of weak ties”. Essentially stating the a lot of loose connections has comparable influence to a lesser number of strong connections. Clearly both approaches should be leveraged to maximize influence.

Part Three: How Great Leaders Harmonize Teams

It’s only when engaged employees are also aligned to an organization’s purpose and goals that you arable to achieve… Harmonization.”

Chapter 6: Harmonization=Engagement+Alignment

Always aim for complete harmony of though, word and deed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Employee Engagement: When an employee looks at the clock in the mid afternoon and says “oh, I forgot about lunch.”

Employee Engagement: “The extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to organizational success and are willing to apply discretionary effort to accomplish tasks important to the achievement of organizational goals.”

The authors suggest that pride, satisfaction, advocacy and retention are the key factors that determine Engagement.

“Alignment doesn’t mean that everyone is marching the someway, in the same uniform… It means everyone knows which hill to climb and why they are climbing the hill.”

Alignment – The authors list four ways to foster alignment:

  • Be clear on core purpose – what you are trying to accomplish and where you are headed
  • Cascade your objectives/goals – measurable, goals with periodic benchmarks
  • Rhythm of communication – frequent, two way communication between all levels of your organization.
  • Reward Success – variable compensation based on the quality of work as a component of the pay scale.

“Engagement is the catalyst to get you that extra edge in performance, while alignment ensures everyone is headed in the same direction.”

“Both Engagement and alignment are activated throughout the world one person at a time, one interaction at a time. Every time you reach a team member… you have the opportunity to build trust, to share, to listen, and to align.”

Chapter 7: Engagement Leads to “Better Earnings and Fatter Margins”

“Good service drives customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction drives consumer loyalty.” wrestling through how to apply this to the nonprofit/education sector

No company (or organization)… can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” Jack Welch

The cost of replace an employee is astronomically higher then engaging a disengaged person.

This chapter contains several case studies that show these principals at work and help turn the philosophy and theory into tangible and applicable reality.

The chapter concludes with research on the different levels of productivity between companies with differing levels of employee engagement. It is no surprise that companies with the highest levels of employee engagement have the highest profits… The research and statistical difference however is staggering! 22% difference in profit margin between these two groups of companies. The implications are incredible.

Part Four: Manager’s Tool Kit

Chapter 8 – GReAT Managers Focus on Growth, Recognition, And Trust

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than there is for bread.” – Mother Teresa

This chapter looks at numerous case studies, surveys, and other resources to help managers understand how to ensure that growth, recognition and trust remain a constant focus for a team and an organization. The following is a brief highlight reel from this chapter. This section of the book is a must read and reread section for anyone in in leadership in their organization.

Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.” Pearl Buck

Growth – Steps to Improving the organizational Focus on Growth:

  • Make professional development the topic of meetings with direct reports
  • Schedule Career conferences with each employee, discuss short and long term goals, obstacles, and needed resources.
  • Conduct a training audit of your team

A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Recognition: Steps to giving effective recognition:

  • Use the listed focus listening questions to initiate discussion with employees about what should be recognized and rewarded.
  • Give public recognition to employees for jobs well done, tying them to the bigger picture (alignment)
  • Make a practice of praising and promoting your employees to your superiors.

Trust– The three “C’s” of building trust:

  • Competence – can I do the task I am doing?
  • Care – do I care about the people I am working with and for?
  • Commitment – am I willing to ride it out through the good times and the tough times.

Trust is the essence of leadership.” – Colin PowellChapter 9: More Ways to Drive Engagement

This final chapter adds a whole bunch more to the “Managers Toolkit”. The authors devote several pages to each of the following essential aspects of effective leadership:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Future Vision
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Product/Service Quality

When discussing each of the aforementioned topics, the authors provide questions, ideas and tips for how to implement them in your own work culture/team.

Final Summary:  This is a must buy, must read, must reread, must share book.  Period.

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