We know, from our own experience as employees, that people perform better when they are engaged. And that engagement means different things to different people.
Yet, despite us knowing that, we keep running companies in a standardized way that kills engagement.
We ask people to do shallow work. We keep them busy with emails, internal chats, and meetings. We manage from the top down. We regard productivity and (physical) presence as the same. We do performance reviews with a checklist. We assign titles and roles, so that we can look at nice pretty boxes and feel in control. And every now and then we throw a party to cheer everybody up (better if under the influence of alcohol).
The thing that I find most perplexing, though, is how much small and medium companies (the vast majority of companies out there) adhere to the same trite script.
They are the ones that are actually better positioned to change these practices. They are the ones who could make of their differences a decisive factor when seeking and retaining talent. They are the ones who could truly have a personal approach to engagement, and be flexible enough to make it feel as if each single employee would belong.
Just because your target is to grow, it does not mean you have to follow in some other company’s footsteps.
Doing that is actually killing your chances of growth.