Book Review: If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement by Jill Christensen

I recently read Jill Christensen’s employee engagement masterpiece, If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement.  Jill, you had me on page one.

I couldn’t stop nodding in approval with the points made page, after page, after page.  From beginning to end, the book details the importance and impact of employee engagement – as well as how to build the foundation for a culture that will lead to sustained success.

While I share some of the book’s points that had my head nodding, I urge you to read the book and you’ll be nodding in agreement, too!


    • The nods started on page one. “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things more difficult” (Warren Buffett).  At Swift Bunny, we say that the key to employee engagement isn’t rocket science – it’s simply that “if you look out for me – I’ll look out for you.”
    • Engagement is not about “creating a group of happy workers.” It’s about “creating a workforce that has an emotional connection to your company and trusts senior leaders.” It’s not about Taco Tuesdays, but about creating a culture where employees believe in leadership’s vision, trusts them, and feels supported.
    • Creating commitment reaps rewards by increasing productivity and customer satisfaction; company performance and profitability; employee retention; work quality. We call this the Employee Profit Chain.
    • Gallup reports companies in the top tier of employee engagement outperform peers by 147% in earnings per share and have a 90% better growth trend.
    • These returns are possible when senior leadership…leads. Creating a culture that develops emotional commitments cannot be delegated.  Leaders must lead, and do so with honesty, dedication, and integrity.  As Jill says, “Employee engagement initiatives have failed for the past 30 years because leaders outsource ‘culture change’ to Human Resources – therefore it is not a priority.”
    • Leaders can create a corporate culture that lets engagement blossom by championing a four-step process and modifying their behaviors in the workplace:
      • Step One – “Get the Right Person in Every Chair.” Qualifications alone are not the reason for hiring someone.  They must also be a good fit with the company’s culture.  Jill suggests: include the company’s culture in recruitment messaging; ask interviewees if their values are aligned with the company’s; be a role model, start doing things differently, and share the results with those below you; someone shouldn’t be permitted to sit in a chair if they don’t think like a champion; bad fits can lead to turnover, but it’s usually the champions who resign.
      • Step Two – “Create a Line of Sight.” Engagement skyrockets when employees see that what they do matters, how they fit into the puzzle, and that their values are aligned with the company’s. This need for purpose is particularly strong among Millennials.  Details include: set goals that align with values; goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-related; replace annual reviews with monthly or quarterly ones; encourage supervisors giving informal, real-time feedback; attribute business “wins” to the team marching in the same direction.
      • Step Three – “Build a Two-Way Communication Culture.” Open and honest communication, soliciting input from employees and giving them forum to be heard “are crucial to eradicating employee disengagement, and building trust.” Pointers include: honestly, openly communicate positive and negative news; use surveys to gather feedback (like our Ingage™ service), have a plan to share feedback with leaders, thank employees for input, and “close the loop” by sharing what will / will not be implemented and why.
      • Step Four – “Recognize People.” The “everyone gets a trophy” concept doesn’t work as lumping under-achieving or average performers with champions has a negative impact on super-stars; sincere recognition is powerful for the recipient and giver (giving recognition can improve one’s emotional well-being); the “golden ticket” to recognition is to be sincere, timely and specific.
    • Jill then covers personal traits needed to make all this possible: be self-confident, courageous, present, and optimistic.

It’s obvious I’m a huge Jill fan. I can’t wait to participate in Swift Bunny’s first Book Club meeting on November 7, 2019, where her book will be the topic of discussion. She’ll also be joining us to guide us through this must-read!

In closing, I was excited how the book supported the value of the people solutions Swift Bunny has been passionately working on bringing to the multifamily industry.  Jill must love our tagline, “It’s About Your People!”


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