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McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce / Edition 1

Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce / Edition 1

by Kevin Sheridan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071773997
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 01/09/2012
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 605,700
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kevin Sheridan is Chief Engagement Officer (CEO) and Chief Consultant of HR Solutions, Inc., a Human Capital Management Consulting Firm specializing in Employee Engagement Survey and Exit Survey design, implementation, analysis, and results. Sheridan has extensive experience in the field, having cofounded three successful survey-related organizations.

Read an Excerpt


How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create An Engaged, Productive Workforce


Copyright © 2012 McGraw-Hill, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-07-177511-3

Chapter One


You can take my business, burn up my building, but give me my people and I'll build the business right back again. —Henry Ford

Engaged employees possess an intellectual commitment and emotional bond (e.g., pride, passion, enthusiasm) to their employer, an eagerness to exert both extra discretionary effort and creativity, as well as a willingness to accept some personal ownership for their own level of Engagement, all leading to maximized outcomes for customers, the organization, and themselves. Engaged employees are likely to recommend their organization as an employer of choice, as well as promote the organization's products and/or services. Employee Engagement matters. Engaged employees are:

Ten times more likely to feel good work is recognized.

Ten times more likely to feel Senior Management is concerned about employees.

Eight times more likely to feel their supervisor encourages their growth.

Seven times more likely to feel they receive regular performance feedback.

Four times more likely to be satisfied with their job.

Four times less likely to think about leaving the organization.

Engaged employees are also linked to satisfied customers at a Pearson correlation coefficient of r = +0.85, meaning that these two variables are strongly related. A Pearson correlation coefficient is a mathematical index used to describe the direction and size of a relationship between two items or variables. A correlation can range between -1.0 and 1.0, with -1.0 being a perfectly negative correlation (every time one item increases, the other item decreases, and vice versa) and 1.0 being a perfectly positive correlation (both items increase and decrease together). A coefficient of 0 represents a completely random relationship. Most items measured using this scale fall somewhere in the middle of -1.0 and 1.0, but rarely exactly on 0. It is important to note that this correlation does not imply causation. Instead, it shows the relationship between two variables. In essence, the more engaged employees you have on your team, the more satisfied customers you will have as well. When it comes to Employee Engagement, there are three types of employees in the workplace: actively engaged, ambivalent, and actively disengaged. Understanding these levels of Engagement and how they affect one another is essential to managing an engaged and productive workforce.

Actively Engaged Employees

• Go above and beyond, frequently doing more than what is asked of them

• Are net promoters: they proudly represent and promote the company's brand

• Are passionate about the mission, vision, and values of their organization

• Have awareness and personal commitment to their Engagement level

• Are self-motivated and driven to perform at a high level

• Are welcoming and supportive of new employees

• Contribute new ideas, often, to better the organization

• Adapt to and facilitate change

• Are optimistic about their future with the organization

Ambivalent Employees

• Are not apt to "go the extra mile"; they do what is asked of them and are not inclined to do much more

• Volunteer rarely, if ever, for extra assignments or to take lead roles

• Display lower energy and lackluster performance on assignments

• Focus, day to day, on simply "getting by"

• Can often feel unappreciated or unimportant

• Go to work primarily for the paycheck

• Are more likely to have a haphazard attendance record and "watch the clock" for the time their shift ends

• Are not overly excited about their current work situation

Actively Disengaged Employees

• Have negative attitudes about their employer and job duties

• Are malcontent; they sometimes openly show their distaste while on the job

• Focus on problems

• Can cause more harm than good with their behavior and actions

• Are not personally invested in the success of the organization

• Badmouth supervisors consistently behind their managers' backs, either in the workplace or to friends and family

• Actively seek to share their negative personal viewpoints with new and ambivalent employees

Figure I.1 summarizes the frequency of Engagement levels in the workplace.

The Spread of Engagement Levels

People are often influenced by those around them, and the workplace is no exception. While many think the social pressure to adopt other's viewpoints ends after our teenage years, that certainly is not the case. My grandma actually used to say one of the great benefits of getting old is "There is a lot less peer pressure." That always made me laugh heartily, but she definitely made an important point that transfers to the workplace. Although managers cannot completely control the spread of Engagement levels at their organization, they can make decisions that will promote an increase in Employee Engagement.

Ambivalent employees are the most easily influenced by their coworkers' Engagement levels, so pairing them with engaged employees for group projects and assignments is a great tactic to increase Engagement. Engaged employees generally enjoy being leaders and mentors, and will set a great example for Ambivalent employees to take personal ownership of their Engagement level.

Actively disengaged employees can be toxic to other employees, especially those who are ambivalent. Other organizations, such as Gallup, have deemed disengaged employees to be workplace "vampires" who suck the life out of those around them. When ambivalent employees befriend disengaged employees who are infectiously negative about their position and the company, that negativity will spread like cancer. Since misery loves company, disengaged employees often seek out other employees and drag them into the malaise of negativity. Managers should also be aware that these vampire-like employees can quickly suck positivity from coworkers if given the chance.

Casey Stengel, baseball Hall of Famer and former manager of the New York Yankees and New York Mets, has a quote that hits this situation right on its head: "The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven't made up their minds." It sounds like a funny strategy, but it honestly works when it comes to Engagement. Managers should try to limit the interaction between disengaged employees anmbivalent employees, as well as new employees. Instead, encourage all employees to get to know the employees who are engaged. Engaged employees aren't negatively affected by their colleagues' Engagement, so it is a good idea to use them as mentors.

Actively disengaged employees are prime candidates to consider transitioning out of the organization. Millions of managers waste boatloads of time coaching these Engagement arsonists, hoping for improvement to no avail. Venturing down the path toward yet another coaching or disciplinary review session, managers are falsely optimistic that meaningful improvement will occur. In reality, this is taking managers away from spending valuable time with their A Players. It is often better to cut your losses and spend more time with the employees who are deserving of the coaching, mentoring, and development, than deal with the entirely disengaged.

In order to protect the workplace environment from negativity, sometimes it can be best to simply get rid of the source of the problem. Do not count on disengaged employees to show themselves to the door; research has shown they are likely to stay, although they produce the worst outcomes for your organization.

Actively managing the Engagement bookends is a critical step toward building a Magnetic Culture. Identifying how employees with different levels of Engagement affect one another is crucial for heading down the path to organizational success. Creating a workplace environment where Engagement thrives and Disengagement dies should always be a management priority.


Although it is widely believed that engaged employees produce a higher quality of work than ambivalent and disengaged employees, I wanted to see data to understand exactly how Engagement impacts the bottom line to statistically prove whether Engagement initiatives will have a return on investment (ROI). Personally, I am a numbers guy.

By correlating 117,868 of our clients' individual Employee Engagement Survey scores to corresponding annual performance reviews, we uncovered a strong relationship between Engagement levels and performance. Nearly 80 percent of engaged employees received the best performance rating on their annual evaluation. Approximately 55 percent of disengaged employees obtained the worst performance rating on their annual review. This data certainly says a lot about what Engagement means for an organization. Eighty percent of the time, engaged employees will meet or exceed the highest standards you have in place. Fiftyfive percent of the time, disengaged employees will fall into the bucket of the lowest performance ranking you offer. To me, such low performance means an employee is not even fulfilling basic job expectations and is subject to probation or termination.

In a nutshell, the overwhelming majority of engaged employees are your top performers, and the majority of disengaged employees could, and probably should, be terminated. To make your organization as successful as possible, you should be interested in getting more engaged employees. This study should be clear motivation for organizations to focus on Engagement as a way to increase performance. As employees become more engaged and committed to their jobs, the more likely they are to be high performers.

Engagement and Repeat Customers

On average, it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain a repeat customer. Customers come back when they are satisfied with their experience and the level of service or product quality they have received. Employees' interaction with customers, therefore, plays a crucial role in whether customers will want to return. In fact, customer service can be more important to people than the actual product or the convenience of doing business with the organization.

For example, suppose you live near two dry cleaners that provide the exact same quality in cleaning and tailoring. One dry cleaner is right around the corner from your house, but the employees are not at all friendly. They make you feel like a burden when you come in, and they take their time before helping you because they are not concerned with making you wait. The other dry cleaner is a mile away, but the employees are extremely nice, remember your name, and seem genuinely happy to see you. They also provide speedy service because they care about respecting your time. Which business are you going to frequent?

Think about how the situation would change if both dry cleaners had equally friendly employees, but one business had a higher quality of cleaning and tailoring because employees cared more about doing a good job. I bet you would probably go to the dry cleaner that provided a better quality service, even if the dry cleaner was slightly less conveniently located.

Customers are faced with decisions like this hundreds of times each day. Research has shown that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated. In addition, about 90 percent of unhappy customers will not buy again from the company that disappointed them. In a world with so many options for any given product or service, Engaged employees will set your business apart and give you an edge on the competition.

The Power Dimensions and Becoming Best-in-Class

Our organization considers clients Best-in-Class when they score in the top 10 percent favorable for overall scores from their Employee Survey. Earning such favorable scores is no easy feat; we have millions of responses from thousands of organizations in our Normative Database, so the competition is stiff. Gaining Best-in-Class status means that employees responded in the top 10 percent favorable of all organizations. Best-in-Class organizations have the most Engaged staff overall, but we wanted to see what else they have in common.

We analyzed Best-in-Class survey data by dimension, which is the general topic that survey items are grouped under. Our survey dimensions are as follows:

Dimension 1: Overall Job Satisfaction

Dimension 2: Satisfaction with the Work

Dimension 3: Coworker Performance/Cooperation

Dimension 4: Pay Satisfaction

Dimension 5: Benefits Satisfaction

Dimension 6: Promotions/Career Advancement

Dimension 7: Supervisory Consideration

Dimension 8: Supervisory Promotion of Teamwork and Participation

Dimension 9: Supervisory Instructions/Guidance

Dimension 10: Communication

Dimension 11: Human Resources/Personnel Policies

Dimension 12: Concern for Employees

Dimension 13: Productivity/Efficiency

Dimension 14: Training and Development

Dimension 15: Physical Working Conditions

Dimension 16: (Concern for) Customer Service

Dimension 17: Strategy and Mission

Dimension 18: Job Stress

Dimension 19: Importance to Job Satisfaction and Employee Productivity

Out of all of these dimensions, we found a glaring similarity between Best-in-Class organizations that was completely absent from non—Best-in-Class organizations. Every single one of our Best-in-Class clients scored above average on the same three dimensions:

Dimension 10: Communication

Dimension 16: (Concern for) Customer Service

Dimension 17: Strategy and Mission

Not one of the hundreds of HR Solutions' clients was subpar or at a deficit to the norm on these three key components of a Magnetic Culture. It is not a fluke that so many world-class and créme de la créme organizations have the exact same things in common. It shows that these three ingredients are a crucial part of the recipe for a highly productive, engaged Magnetic Culture. We call Dimensions 10, 16, and 17 the Power Dimensions.

Another distinctive quality our research uncovered about Best-in-Class organizations is that they can charge 10 percent more than other companies (without adversely impacting revenue growth) and commonly make twice as much in profit. While price and quality are important purchasing factors, these profits come from employing a great staff that has the organization's best interest at heart.

Disengagement = Bad PR

The importance of Employee Engagement has been amplified by social media. When customers or employees are unhappy with an organization, it is now easier than ever before to spread that message to hundreds, if not thousands of people within mere seconds. This general principle is called "the Multiplier Effect." On average, one happy customer will tell five other people about his or her experience. Thus about five others will learn of the compliment. On the flip side, one unhappy customer will voice his or her dissatisfaction to 10 potential customers who, in turn, will tell at least five other people. Thus about 60 others will eventually learn of the complaint. Essentially, bad news travels faster and farther than good news.

When social media is involved, however, the message spreads exponentially. Think about how easy it is to post a status update on Facebook that says you went to a new restaurant in town. Whatever you think about the new business becomes an instant restaurant review for all of your friends. If you had a great time, your friends might consider going there. If you experienced bad food and rude employees, your friends will likely avoid the restaurant if they remember your comments. More than ever, people are starting to rely on customer reviews as major influencers in consumer purchases due to the widespread capabilities of social media. As an organization, this means it is essential that employees provide excellent service to current customers to build the pipeline for future customers.

United Breaks Guitars

Perhaps you are familiar with the United Breaks Guitars YouTube video. This video, which has had over 10 million hits, chronicles the real-life experience of how David Carroll had his guitar broken by careless employees during a trip on United Airlines in 2008 and the subsequent reaction from the airline. The song immediately went viral when it was released in 2009, and it was a public relations humiliation for United.


Excerpted from BUILDING A MAGNETIC CULTURE by KEVIN SHERIDAN Copyright © 2012 by McGraw-Hill, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Don66 More than 1 year ago
Lots of people throw around the word engagement in today's world but many people who hear it do not understand it. This book does a great job of not only defining engagement but also sharing the benefits of an engaged workforce. And if that is not enough it also gives you the Key Drivers of Engagement and specific behaviors or actions for a leader to use. I love the way Sheridan had a great blend of statistics and research with stories and case studies. I cannot wait for this author's next book on engagement.
P_Bourett-ExecutiveCoach More than 1 year ago
"'Building' is truly what this book is about. I found data, insights and tools I can use to construct a measurable engagement program and I recommend 'Building a Magnetic Culture' as a must read to each of my clients." "The data presented debunks the view that contributors fall into one of two buckets - those who should be on the bus or those who should not. Armed with new understanding that there are three types of employees: actively engaged, ambivalent, and actively disengaged; and that an amazing 60% of employees fall into ambivalent has dramatically changed how I assess organizations." "Reading this book took me to a higher level of understanding employee engagement, how to measure it, and how to positively effect it. I, like many Human Resources professionals, focused on measuring employee satisfaction vs. employee engagement. By adjusting my personal lens, I can see much clearer now!" "The statistics you documented in this book are quite powerful. Out of the 117,868 client engagement scores your team assessed, it speaks volumes to see the correlation between engaged employees and performance, with 80% of engaged employees meeting or exceeding performance goals." "One of the many tools I will take from this book is the Pearson correlation coefficient model showing the relationship between two variables. This is an excellent tool to meaningfully impact organizational change by deriving actionable insights from large amounts of data." "The author complements the vast data collected with interesting and illustrative examples that brought clarity and objectivity to important, yet sometimes esoteric, topics such as the difference between managers and leaders."
PJLV More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found many actionable ideas that I have been able to put to good use as I help my small business clients build their dream teams. Drawing from Mr. Sheridan's extensive experience and common sense recommendations, I have helped small business owners see the importance of viewing their staffing costs as an investment instead of an expense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Building a Magnetic Culture is essential for anyone who is a leader in the workplace, as the book brilliantly illustrates how to improve productivity and engagement amongst employees. Kevin Sheridan has the experience needed regarding employee engagement, and he demonstrates it in the book. He provides specific steps to Building a Magnetic Culture, and provides statistics and research to back up his claims. For new business owners, the aspect of talent acquisition in the book is huge. Sheridan outlines how to obtain talented workers and keep them motivated, ultimately raising the quality of one's company. Sheridan also pays much attention to diversity, a topic of ever-increasing importance. He explains how diversity can enrich a workplace environment, but also how to overcome certain challenges that come with diversity, such as generational differences. Without passion and motivation, it is hard to compete in the business world, and Sheridan makes that clear. Throughout, the emphasis on accountability for both the manager and employees is key. Sheridan gives a genuine account of his experiences, allowing the reader to see the effects of engagement. The book motivates the reader to have a more positive and productive work experience, and ultimately to Build a Magnetic Culture. It is an absolute must for anyone looking to take their workforce to the next level.
TheTalentDevelopment More than 1 year ago
This is one of the books that organization leaders, managers, and HR professionals should have as an effective and applicable tool for “Employee Engagement”. The book contains real life cases, practical theories, best practices, sample tools and techniques, which Kevin Sheridan has put together in simple and inspiring words. I personally like the “Top 10 engagement drivers” that the leader can simply use as a checklist to gauge his/her organization engagement effectiveness. Plus the case studies from leading companies in America provide clear application techniques and positive outcomes that HR practitioners can use as a testimony that “Employee Engagement” is an essential leadership & management skill that brings “tangible & quantifiable business benefits”!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every manager should have this book! It's a great guide for how to retain a happy & productive team. The section on the most impactful drivers of employee engagement is really interesting. It shows what people care most about (recognition, communication, etc.) and explains why. This allows managers to relate better to their direct reports and make adjustments that create a big impact. If all managers read this book, the world would be a happier place!