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Jane Hates Her Job*

Guide to Getting Better Employee Engagement

In this book, author Tim Wilke discusses 24 strategies that will help improve employee engagement. The first part of the book has the manager do some assessment about the current level of engagement that the staff has. In this part, he also discusses the cost of disengagement as well as giving the big picture of the 24 strategies and how to apply them. Part 2, the bulk of the book, lays out the 24 strategies. They range from very simple (like saying hello to your staff every morning) to ones that are a little more vague about how to implement (like showing respect to employees) to ones that would require corporate culture change (like doing away with annual performance evaluations).

In each chapter about a strategy, he discusses research sometimes and also has you ponder your own experience or made-up scenarios that give insight into the strategy. He often tells what’s in it for management regarding the strategy, and he always ends by showing what personal needs of the employee are addressed by the particular technique. Sometimes, he gives detailed descriptions about what to do, and other times, they are more general.

For the most part, the strategies he suggests should be common sense for managers. Having worked in several larger organizations myself, I know that common sense is not so common, particularly with certain managers and typically more apt to be absent in a large organization. There are definitely dangers in misinterpreting or poorly implementing some of these strategies; the author does caution about some of these pitfalls. I’m particularly thinking about the “management by walking around” strategy. I had a manager who did this, but she used it to micromanage and belittle employees; the author does mention this as a “don’t.”

I would have liked to have seen more consistency in the way each strategy chapter was arranged. As you read through the strategies, except for knowing the end needs-met list, there’s no expectation about what you might learn about the topic. I think each chapter should have had a structure like this, if possible: any research that backed the idea up, case studies, imaginary situations, reflecting on your own knowledge of this strategy from your own life, what management gains, what employees gain, how to implement the strategy, and the needs list.

I think the cover and title of this book aren’t appropriate. The picture is shocking to look at, but it isn’t professional and doesn’t reflect the serious nature of the book. The title seems irrelevant; one should have been chosen that reflected what was within.

By the way, for the American readers out there, the writer is Australian, so some of the quotes, research, and facts reflect that. However, the concept of employee engagement is universal in its application.