REVIEW: Steve Curtin — The Revelation Conversation (BOOK)
“Actively disengaged employees make up, on average, three out of every twenty employees. These employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they are resentful that their needs aren’t being met and are acting out their unhappiness while enduring miserable work experiences and spreading their unhappiness to their colleagues,” Steve Curtin writes in his new book, The Revelation Conversation: Inspire Greater Employee Engagement by Connecting to Purpose. “When you think about purpose in the workplace, think about what you have control over as a leader or manager.
Hint: It’s not an employee’s life purpose. In the context of Norman Lear’s two journeys, you can directly impact employees’ horizontal journey of self-improvement, while their vertical journey of self-discovery, much like your own, is reliant on their individual exploration of unique talents, interests, and experiences.” It’s this kind of conciseness and sense of clarity that makes Curtin feel like a genuinely reliable narrator, not just intellectually but emotively. He’s not afraid to go out on a limb and sound a little sentimental, never at the expense of facts but nonetheless.
It’s the sign of someone confident in the material they’re backing, so there’s never an excess rumination on grasping of the facts. Curtin is able to communicate effectively because he’s reeling it off the top of his head in an almost conversational, broken down set of topics. This makes descriptions related to the book’s ultimate messaging: fashioning a sense of inspiration and motivation in every member of the employee base, that much more compelling.
“Whenever I ask five frontline service providers in the same job role, individually, to describe for me — from their perspective — their job role and what it entails, their responses are dominated by job functions,” Curtin writes in the aforementioned vein. “…When I ask the same five employees to share the purpose of their job role, their single highest priority at work, confusion ensues. I get dumbfounded looks followed by, ‘What do you mean?’ or ‘Could you repeat the question?’ Without elaborating, I simply restate the question: ‘What is your job purpose, your single highest priority at work?’
After an awkward pause and some stammering, workers will attempt to select the ‘correct’ answer. In doing so, they will reluctantly offer responses in the form of questions like, ‘Customer service?,’ ‘Quality?,’ ‘Productivity?,’ ‘Sales?,’ or ‘Safety?’…What these subtle (interactions) have shown me is that most employees in the same job role are on the same page as to what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it, but there is a lack of awareness about why they do what they do, the way they do it — their job purpose. As a result, many competent employees lack purpose at work and unwittingly cap their potential.”
It’s these kinds of clarifications that make Curtin be able to complete the circle around what he preaches. It’s the digging down into the nitty gritty, the actual descriptions of distinctive employee behavior(s), that make the book feel refreshingly earnest and ideologically sound.