Amy Gallo contributed a fine piece to the HBR Best Practices blog today. Fine really is the word for it -- while she outlines the textbook premise on employee engagement well, I can't help but be left with a longing for at least a bit of discussion around how infrequently the textbook approaches really apply in employee development these days.
Commenter Rick Ross and I are kindred spirits. From his response:
Creating a plan - The formulaic "goal\ objective \ milestone \evaluate risk" method works in the increasingly rare environments where tasks are simple and easily measurable. More sophisticated methodologies are required in environments with higher complexity and where results that are harder to measure. Nothing will deflate motivation faster than being measured in an invalid way.
That last line says it all, and it's the overriding concept I think we are well-served to remember. We deal with great complexity at work, which requires a degree of intellectual dexterity as we try to define the measures of our success. So, what could serve to make a measurement invalid? A) When it doesn't make intuitive sense to the one being measured and, B) When the one being measured had no part in the definition of the metric.
Integrating new processes ends up being a more organic process than we ever expect, and certainly more organic than the textbooks predict. Working with staff to build a planning process that provides clear direction -- and maintains flexibility and adaptability over time -- is key to making change stick in the long run.