Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

Book Review: ‘Build it – The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement’

By Chris Finnegan

15 Feb 2019

Senior Consultant and transformation specialist Chris Finnegan reviews ‘Build it – The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement’ by Glenn Elliott and Debra Corey

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I absolutely hate reading ‘business books’. It just not something that I do; probably because it reminds me of the year I spent at university studying law, leafing through hefty tomes of information that I simply didn’t have any desire to read.

(I realised very quickly that using the TV series Ally McBeal as the main reference point for a career was a serious miscalculation, and promptly switched course to psychology).

It’s strange that I had such an aversion to such business books because I actually read quite a lot.  I’ve got a bookcase at home to rival the best of them, and I’ve devoured the Harry Potter series from cover to cover.  But ‘business books’… that’s another story.

So why did I read this book? Well it’s a combination Curium culture (we’re all curious and like to keep up with industry developments), and an interesting statistic that CEOs read 100 books a year. Personally, I don’t believe it. I mean, who has the time to read two books a week?! But I get the principle: read more > learn more > develop your thinking.

This combination led me to browse the bookshelves in Curium’s offices and saw me select ‘Build it – The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement’ for some light reading.

To cut a long story short – this book is awesome! I’m genuinely surprised at how good it is, and it’s changed my opinion of ‘business books’.  Here’s the lowdown on this mindset changing book.

What is it about?

For anyone interested in employee engagement and how to develop programmes of activity to increase engagement, this is the book for you.

It describes all the key components of engagement, including wellbeing, leadership, communication, purpose, mission and values, and the parts they play in the bigger picture. It then uses case studies to demonstrate the challenges and solutions to engagement issues, which adds a practical perspective to the theory.

What did I learn?

While most things described in the book aren’t ground-breaking ideas, it’s the way in which these ideas are structured into an easily digestible format that makes the book stand out.  It uses the concept of ‘The Engagement Bridge’ to help develop engagement strategies.

The book asks the reader to imagine employee engagement as a bridge; the intention being to help employees move across from the ‘not engaged’ side to the ‘engaged’ side.

The objective is to make this bridge as solid and wide as possible, so that it can allow more people to move from one side to the other.

  • The foundations – the three elements on either side of the bridge (pay and benefits, workspace, wellbeing) represent the foundation of engagement. If any of these are weak, the strength of the whole bridge is undermined since the foundations what sits on top of them.
  • The bridge – the other elements represent beams of wood stretching from one side to the other. If you only have a small number of beams in place, only a small number of employees will be engaged, and you will leave a high number of employees on the side of disengagement. Increasing the number of beams and widening the beams will give you the best chance of achieving an engaged workforce.

Who should read it?

I think there are three key audiences for this book:

  • All people managers – anyone who has an element of people management in their role should read this book to help them understand the important role they play in employee engagement. They’ll also learn some practical tips on how they can engage better with their people
  • CEOs – this is a great read for any CEO who is looking to maximise the value that a workforce can deliver
  • HR professionals / transformation professionals – this book provides great tips on how to link engagement to return on investment, and how to communicate the benefits to those who don’t ‘get’ it

Chris Finnegan led on change, engagement and communication during a major systems transformation at a large local authority.

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