1st Edition

The Velvet Revolution at Work The Rise of Employee Engagement, the Fall of Command and Control

By John Smythe Copyright 2013
    312 Pages
    by Routledge

    by Routledge

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    What drives or delivers engaged people? Employers need to focus on creating the right conditions. Employers can't impose engagement: people need to choose to engage themselves. In The Velvet Revolution at Work, the follow-up to his best-selling The CEO: Chief Engagement Officer, John Smythe explains that the essential ingredient of the right conditions is a culture of distributed leadership which enables people at work to liberate their creativity to deliver surprisingly good results for their institution and themselves. Using models, examples and anecdotes from his client research he goes on to demonstrate exactly how to design an engagement process; one that is integrated with your business strategy and that is sustainable.

    Contents: Foreword; Introduction; Part I What is the Velvet Revolution at Work?: The velvet revolution at work - why now? Defining employee engagement; Introducing the primary levers and supporting enablers of engagement. Part II Strategy Delivered through People: Delivering Strategy and Change through Participative Interventions that Engage the Right People: Getting started and negotiating business outcomes; Your default approach to engagement: enabler or disabler?; Negotiating who should be engaged: the power of the peach; Designing and running engagement interventions that deliver fast commercial and cultural results; Sustaining the benefits of an engagement intervention; Creative dynamics that liberate breakthrough ideas. Part III Beyond the Intervention: the Engaged Organization: The evidence, Jerome Reback; Helping leaders at every level to engage their people - capability, Jerome Reback; Brand needs engaged employees to deliver the customer promise; The impact of employee engagement on internal communication; Digital technology needs the right culture to be an enabler of engagement, John Smythe with Ben Hart and Max Waldron; Objections to employee engagement; Epilogue: employee engagement: social movement or fleeting fad?; References; Index.


    John Smythe, a founding partner of the Engage for Change consultancy, specialises in organisational communication and engagement. He was an organisational fellow with McKinsey, undertaking research into employee engagement, and has held senior public affairs posts for three American corporations: Occidental Oil, Bechtel Corporation and Marathon Oil. After leaving SmytheDorwardLambert in 2003, a consultancy acknowledged to be the thought leader in organisational communication, McKinsey and Company invited him to take a visiting organisational fellow role, undertaking research among sixty corporations and institutions in Europe and North America into current approaches in engaging leaders and employees in driving strategy and change. The research is available from Engage for Change. Earlier John was behind a start up in the same field called Wolff Olins/Smythe (1985-1989). He published (with Colette Dorward and Jerome Reback, fellow founders of SmytheDorwardLambert) Corporate Reputation, The New Strategic Asset in 1989. John is author of The CEO - Chief Engagement Officer: Turning Hierarchy Upside Down to Drive Performance (Gower, 2007).

    ’No one knows more about building and fixing employee relationships than John Smythe. Here is a practical modern manual of how to deal with the problems every business experiences - and the occasional crisis for which every business must prepare. Smythe’s assessment of changing circumstances deserves attention in every boardroom.’ Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors ’A must-read for anyone trying to increase employee engagement to deliver better business results. It blows apart myths but also gives tangible ways to improve. It clearly illustrates a better way of leadership that is needed if companies are to survive and thrive. It left me personally motivated and inspired to tackle a difficult topic with renewed vigour.’ Jane Reed-Thomas Head of Communications, General Insurance Group Communications, Zurich Insurance Company Ltd ’A convincing and well-researched case for the merits of staff-engagement. I have benefited from John and Jerome's expertise in maximising the effectiveness of engagement as a catalyst for implementing radical corporate change. A powerful concept indeed to be sustained by strong leadership - from the top and all around - and by placing internal communications at the heart of corporate strategy.’ Didier Harel, former Managing Director, Total UK Ltd ’This practical manual examines the elusive drivers of engagement and provides a series of well-grounded approaches for leaders to adopt.’ Quality World, March 2014