Where there is demand there will be supply. Especially in the world of thought leadership.

Thought leadership costs almost nothing to create and has almost zero downside. When was the last time someone went back and looked at a post a “thought leader” wrote a few years ago and called them on the ridiculousness of their thoughts and the fact what they promised never happened. Remember when Vine was going to rule the HR world… or 12 second video? Now it’s Snapchat and WhatsApp – or is it SnapApp and WhatsChat? Who knows – all I know is some guru is starting another blog about it right now. (As soon as they finish the one on AI.)

Granted – you can’t look forward and not be wrong. I’ve been wrong about a ton of stuff.

But I’ve learned.

I’ve dialed back the hyperbole around anything new. (By the way – where are my flying cars? I ask that every year. We were promised flying cars by now.) I now look for the sublties around ideas – not the easy headline (except for clickbait – that totally rules!)

In today’s HR world, the need for solutions to increase engagement scores is creating almost infinite demand and therefore the supply of fixes has increased to meet that demand. Unfortunately, that kind of demand bubble brings out the charlatans and medicine show salespeople. Lots of them.

Now, when I say “engagement”, I am using that as an umbrella term to cover many different topics – motivation, recognition, rewards, retention, compensation, bonuses, variable pay, satisfaction, etc. Those are usual suspects when it comes to employee engagement and where the gurus focus (depending on what they normally invoice for…)

As you read the articles and posts that highlight the solution for your engagement problem look to see if they are focused on their specific area of intervention. Is the solution “more recognition”? Or is it more “pay-for-performance?” Could it be they are recommending “more communications?” My experience says it is one of those or a variation on one of those themes.

But I’m going to take a different approach and say ALL of them are wrong.

They are wrong because – the solution to engagement isn’t A thing.

The solution is a system of things.

My Car Analogy

I look at getting the most out of a business sort of like getting the most out of my car. I want my car to do a few different things – move me, move my stuff, be cost-efficient, be reliable, perform in extremes of heat and cold, impress the ladies (or men depending on context.)

Let me ask you this. Would you go to a mechanic that tells you the ONLY thing you need to worry about to get your car to perform is changing the oil? Forget tire maintenance, forget timing belt changes – just change the oil so it stays lubricated. Or, would you trust the tire store that tells you to ignore the engine – just worry about the air pressure in your tires? Or the transmission guy telling you not to worry about the electrical system – transmissions are the key to your car’s performance. You get the idea.

It’s the System Stupid

They are all right. And all wrong.

Of course, the transmission is important. As is the electrical system, and the fuel injectors and the tires. They all contribute the goals you’ve established for your car.

It is NEVER one thing.

Never has been.

Never will be.

The only (yes I said ONLY) way to drive performance within your employee base (or channel, or consumer) is to look at your connection to the audience as a system of interventions, tweaks, updates.

Jump over to this article on Inc. Magazine site. In the article they list a pretty nice group of ideas that would impact employee motivation (engagement) and I agree with all of them.

But not once in the article did they mention that the real success will come when these individual pieces are put together to form a strategy and a plan.

That is what you really need.

What is your “system” for engaging and influencing your target audience. Don’t tell me the tool you’re using – tell me how the pieces work together to get you where you want to go.

When you can do that – you have a solution.