What you may ask, does an IOU have to do with employee engagement? Let me explain with an example.
Most industries have been very concerned about employee engagement and its impact on customer satisfaction. It is not unusual for employers to spend a substantial amount of time and effort to measure employee satisfaction or engagement. Once this is accomplished, efforts can be made to improve or sustain this level of satisfaction or engagement. As with other management efforts, to improve levels of performance the preferred method is the development an action plan.
In the example let’s assume the manager’s reporting department scores for satisfaction or engagement was relatively low. A typical action plan would include establishing communications regarding the causes and agreeing on intended changes to improve or remove these causes. Apparently the e-mail below was an effort to improve one department’s interactions with their manager. Does it resemble an IOU?
From: The Boss
To: Direct Reports
Sent: Early Spring
Subject: Summer Evening Out
I hope you will be available for an evening out for dinner and drinks later this summer.
I will send some potential dates to everyone to confirm availability.
While the rest of the company was meeting, communicating issues, and developing plans to understand and improve, one was left waiting. Left waiting for a promised dinner and drinks which would hopefully improve the department’s engagement with this manager. As the summer came to a close and stories of how other departments were working toward fuller engagement with their managers, how do you think they felt? It would be fair to assume worse than before.
Interestingly, things can in fact become worse. Yes, as the IOU memo is placed in a file folder, it is added to several other yet to be redeemed IOUs. I’m sure the unredeemed promise came to mind immediately. Maybe the subtitle of this post should be, “Talk is Cheap”.