Overcome 68% Disengagement with Goldstein’s 5 Principles of Engagement

Robots do what they’re told, but people need a sense of power and control to be engaged.

In traditional organizations, management is about taking control, not giving it. No wonder disengagement scores hover around 70%. (Gallop 2015 numbers)


5 essentials for engagement*:

  1. Trust.
  2. Training.
  3. Tools.
  4. Priorities. Knowing what’s important.
  5. Giving control. The people doing the work exercise the most control over the work.

(Adapted from: Why Are There Snowblowers in Miami)

“Engagement needs to start at the top, and it will flow downward throughout the organization, like water.” Steven D. Goldstein

Goldstein’s Five Principles of Engagement:

#1. Fresh Eyes.

Inertia is a form of disengagement. It’s normal to slip into habits and patterns that result in robot-like disengagement.

  1. Listen to new employees.
  2. Take customer complaints seriously.
  3. Hire consultants.

#2. Connecting.

You must engage with people if you expect them to be engaged. Isolated leaders have disengaged employees. 

If you don’t learn their name, don’t expect engagement.

“Leaders connect by interacting authentically with employees, not by dictating to them.” Steven D. Goldstein

Move toward your humanity, not your title.

  1. Tell stories.
  2. Let people see your personality.
  3. Show a little emotion.
  4. Move away from stereotypical boss behaviors.

#3. Hot Buttons.

People can’t fully engage with 25 priorities.

Multiple focal points dilute engagement. Establish two or three hot button issues. Choose things that make the greatest difference now. 

#4. Transparency.

Engagement requires enough information to safely take action without constantly seeking permission.

  1. How are you getting timely, accurate, relevant information to employees?
  2. How are you communicating priorities and values?
  3. How do you respond to mistakes?

#5. Speed.

“Large organizations really need to steal the play-book from start-ups…. Months, quarters, and years, need to be replaced with hours, days, and weeks.” Goldstein

Engagement requires urgency.


This post is the result of reading, “Why Are There Snowblowers in Miami,” and my conversation with the author Steven D. Goldstein.

Steven has over 35 years experience working as an operating executive at Fortune 500 corporations (including as Chairman and CEO of American Express Bank) and midsize companies as well.

Which of Goldstein’s 5 Principles do you find most important to engagement? Why?

What tips for elevating engagement might you suggest?