Emotional Business in Employee Engagement

qua·le ˈkwälē/  noun a quality or property as perceived or experienced by a person.Link

We are physically blind in each of our eyes, we have a blind spot.


There’s a way to find your blind spot. Cover your left eye and look at the dot on the left in this image. Be aware of the cross on the right, but don’t look at it – just keep your eye on the dot. Move your face closer to the monitor, and farther away. At some point, you should see the cross disappear. Stay at that point and close your right eye. Stare at the cross, and you should see that the dot has disappeared

Our world is what we perceive it to be but not what it is.

We can demonstrate over and again that things aren’t always what they seem.  We can identify sense gaps and find ways to augment them but it is difficult to identify the emotional gaps and find ways to engage.  If it is dark, I can use a light.  If it is hard to hear, I can use an amplifier.   If I can’t smell something, I can add a smell to it (for detection) like garlic added to acetylene.  When asked in an employee engagement survey a question or a statement it may read.. “On a scale of 1-10, my employer values how I feel.”  No matter what number leadership reads there will be a challenge on how to deal with the results.  Are they a reflection of some common reality or common blindness?  If it is dark for everyone and I turn on a light, everyone can see, but if I take an action to deal with emotions.. results will vary.

How does this translate to business?

In a very literal sense, we are enamored with technology because we can see, feel, hear, touch, smell a change.  We can all share in this idea that together we went from someplace to somewhere using something.

This is one of the reasons why today we have more challenges in human interaction and success in employee engagement.  It impacts everything in business.

Emotional continuity in business is part of business continuity and operational agility. Leaders try to address it with tools.  

…  Company X has a problem transferring knowledge from older workers to incoming 20 somethings.   Company X reduced benefits to cut costs, decreased pay to cut costs, cut jobs, gave all of their senior staff a pay increase, and started to make strategic investments and acquisitions.

Company X created a new internal business capability for communications called “JAM” and they asked all of their employees to use it.   The organization spent $3m dollars on the product in licensing and services, hired the best consultants in the world to advise them on the technology and built a marketing campaign around the capability that included a “Jamboree”

It was new and innovative, built on the best technology that anyone could offer, had the best analytic engine in the business to get all sorts of communication, relationship and sentiment analysis.  It could handle all sorts of communications traffic and it could even make predictions.

Brain Drain

Company X started to look at JAM to see how it was being used and what the adoption rate looked like.   As they got closer to the screen the cross disappeared <— look up at the top if you forgot about the cross.  They are looking at the world with one eye shut.

Due to the new healthcare laws, the cost of working actually went up for the older folks. (Read this for more).  “The costs are going up, the benefits are going down and now you are asking me to train young folks that came into the world with the book knowledge of a billion lives at the tip of their fingers.”    It’s like a reverse shark tank.. they are out.

They didn’t join JAM and they won’t, in fact, they plan on leaving but they are just in the process of questioning themselves on when.

Emotional Business

If you want to reach a person, they must have some trust in what you say.  It isn’t simply that you are a person they like or that you have a great scope of influence, you have to speak with both actions and words.  People will give you a chance to back your words with action but if you fail to do what you say you are going to do, they will leave you.  They will leave you first in emotion and you will be blind to that and they will leave you physically and that you will be aware of because of your focus on the circle.

Leaders wonder why that we have “Crew Change” problems in every industry and every market but there should be very little to wonder.  They are looking to solve the wrong problems with great precision with both good and not- so good intentions.   When you believe your organization would sell your organs to make a buck on you in order for them to spend that same dollar on a bottle of the best rot gut they can find, you will lose your emotional inclination to be loyal to them.


When someone in your family is hurt, you engage them. You talk with them and not at them.  You find ways to communicate with them.  If your son is hurt, buying him a watch won’t change his pain.   It is the same thing in an organization.  There are choices made by multiple parties.   People choose to work for the organization and the organization chooses to have these people work for them.   You have to take the blinder off and look through both eyes and at the same time, use all of your emotional understanding as well.  At the end of the day, communities are families of people who are working together for common goals.  If leadership in a community separates itself from the community and creates an (us and them) situation, the community will respond in kind.   If you want to build the best organization to work for, you have to start with building trust.   Trust is not a slippery business word or consultant speak, it is a real thing that is not something we can touch but certainly something we can feel.