Don’t Break the Engagement

Vision, mission, goals, objectives, engagement. This is a story of when it all went horribly wrong.

Get a tissue.

Ever since college, Huang had a strong vision of his future. His dream wasn’t at all atypical, but to him it was uniquely his own: To marry,  live in a condo in a thriving city, and have children to love and adore.

To that end, Huang made it his mission to take Monica to a special place where he would make a proposal of marriage.

He had some specific goals in mind. He wanted the two of them to enjoy dinner at some expensive restaurant. It would need to afford them a modicum of privacy and allow for a few lingering hours over food, conversation and gentle caresses – their fingertips playing tag throughout the evening.

Huang set forth to identify some of his immediate objectives: Pick the specific date and time, research area restaurants, consider some meals and wine pairings (he wasn’t even sure what that meant, but didn’t want to look silly when his boss recommended it,) and order both the flowers and a limo. Oh, and the ring! Geez, he needed a ring!

So the fateful day came. Huang and Monica climbed into the long black limo. They were dressed beautifully, looking as if they’d walked off of the cover of a glossy fashion magazine.

Off to the restaurant they went, speeding through the glimmering lights of the nighttime skyline.Eventually their driver brought the limo to a slow stop in front of one of the most elegant restaurants in town. Huang drew his hands away from Monica’s eyes as the valet opened the limo door.

Beaming with delight, she stepped out on to the carpet that led up to the huge brass door of the restaurant. There, they were met by a handsome maitre d’… her ex-boyfriend!

You could almost hear the tires as time came to a screeching halt. As I write this, I can still smell the burning rubber. We can only guess the ending to their story, but for this evening, at least, engagement was the last thing on their minds.

Huang and Monica’s story is analogous to what often happens in organizations. Everyone is on the same page – vision, mission, goals and objectives – until the rubber hits the road, so to speak. It’s the place at which engagement comes to an end.

Your employees may well be moving along with you and the organization, until….

The abrupt stop in the middle of that sentence is the place where people stop being engaged. It can happen when a surprise expectation appears. Employees don’t like surprises.

Critical to organizational goals are constant communication and a continual drive to ask each person how they might best contribute. Each person has dreams of how they’d like to help you. That’s how they become engaged! What can you do right now to keep your betrothed from being surprised… by your expectations?

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