Sometimes I surprise myself. I’ve been writing about employee engagement – and engagement in general – for almost 10 years. First on my own blog for and then in tandem on Fistful of Talent for almost as long. I’ve also been connected with HRExaminer for about 5 or 6 years – and now back here on my own blog again. I’m rebuilding my audience now after a bad business decision a few years back.

Semper discentes.

Neither here nor there.

But here’s the thing that surprises me. There are so many things in other disciplines and industries can be repurposed as part of an engagement piece.

Today it is financial advice and brokers.

A friend of mine Dr. Daniel Crosby is an author of books (not ebooks – real honest to goodness BOOKS – NY Times best-seller books!) and is principal in his on investment firm – Nocturne Capital (please keep reading my stuff and sending me business – I hope to have enough money someday to have him make me really rich!) He advises clients from a behavioral point of view. Meaning – he knows and understands our innate decision-making biases and keeps us from hurting ourselves. He’s a psychologist too… a money shrink.

Anyway… He posted the other day about “behavioral alpha” in this piece on LinkedIn. Please be kind – what follows is a not-as-smart-as-Dr. Crosby-explanation of what I read.

Behavioral alpha is the difference in return you get when someone helps you manage your behavior (not make stupid investing decisions) vs. making decisions on your own. From his post:

What will surprise most investors seeking an appropriate financial guide is that hand-holding provides more added value than any of the activities more directly associated with the management of money. Based on Vanguard’s assumption of 3% per year average added value, fully half of that owes to behavioral coaching, or preventing clients from making foolish decisions during times of fear or greed! Put more plainly still, an advisor is adding more value when she is managing your emotions than when she is managing your money. (emphasis the author’s)

Your broker’s ability to help you manage your own behaviors (not just provide knowledge of the market) is what really makes the difference.

Now…the engagement part.

Think about a great manager you may have had in your career. I’m betting they not only helped you understand the functions of your job and the interrelationships in the company. I’m betting they helped you make better business decisions, career decisions, and maybe even some personal ones.

That manager provided the handholding Dr. Crosby talks about. I think good managers provide the same “behavioral alpha.” Good managers hold employee’s hands and help manage their emotions too.

Maybe the true difference between the average company with foosball tables and free beer and the GREAT company with foosball tables and free beer is the engagement alpha the management team provides. Studies have shown that managers have a lot to do with the engagement levels of their employees.

Now it has a name – the Management Engagement AlphaTM.

No – go be that alpha manager you always wanted to be!