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Unplugged: How Organizations Lose Their Energy and How to Get It Back

ISBN: 9781732727700
Binding: Paperback
Author: Steve Buchholz
Author: Tom Roth
Pages: 282
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Published: 3/26/2019

This book begins with a question: What takes the human energy out of an organization and how to get it back? Unplugged is about understanding what happens to employees when they lose their way amidst change, when they become unplugged from purpose, connection, direction, meaning, and value. When they, in a word, lose their energy. The book provides a fresh look at engagement as a choice employees make based on how they perceive the change and on how much discretionary energy they will give to the endeavor. Various factors contribute to employees unplugging. They include experiencing change as loss, repetitive change leading to fatigue and/or apathy, becoming overwhelmed because of additional workload, low work satisfaction, and feeling poorly led.

Unplugged is also about how to restore this lost energy. The key to doing so resides with the leaders throughout the organization. Regardless of the type of change occurring, leaders need to understand the critical role that they play. In our research, we asked a simple question: During these periods of challenging change, what do you believe you need from your leadership? From their feedback emerged six elements that reengage employees:

• The Leader’s example

• A sense of future opportunity

• Clear focus and expectations

• A desire to be included and informed

• A need to feel connected

• A need to feel leadership cares about them

The majority of the book focuses on the restoration practices each of these elements address: Six chapters are dedicated to separate elements that leadership can respond to in a variety of ways. The elements are: Leadership. Employees want leadership to set the example and to walk their talk. Employees want leadership out front, acting with integrity, and character. Perceived opportunity: Employees want to understand what the future holds for them. They want to feel a sense of hope.

What in the future can they get excited about? What about the future will benefit them? Without a sense of future opportunity to move toward, they’ll live in the loss rather than move through it. Personal accountability: Employees want their questions answered: “As a result of the changes, what do you now expect of us?” “How will we be held accountable?” Losing focus or becoming disoriented during times of change is common. Employees want to know how the change will impact them and what leadership expects of them. Inclusion: Employees want to feel informed. They want to participate in authoring the future. All aspects of communication come into play: increased communication, the chance to provide input, the opportunity to discuss issues and ask questions, and the chance to be heard and involved.

Connectedness: Employees want to feel connected to each other. They want to feel they are part of a collaborative environment where support for each other is present. Validation: Employees want leaders to care about them. They want to feel they are an important part of the organization’s future and want to be supported, recognized, and developed. We want readers to understand that you can reengage an organization by having leadership focus on these key elements that contribute most to restoring employee satisfaction and energy: One important objective was to provide applications and tools that guide an organization’s leadership in applying practices that address the various elements. It isn’t enough to tell leaders where to focus on; we need to help them understand what to do. A cultural approach focused on infusing practices into the fabric of how the organization operates is introduced.


Dr. Steve Buchholz is a recognized leader in the field of change management. Steve authored the business best seller, Aftershock: Helping People Through Corporate Change, and co-authored with Tom Roth, Creating the High Performance Team. He holds a doctorate in Organizational Sociology from the University of Nebraska. Steve works with a variety of companies focusing on leadership capacity, high performance teaming, change management, talent retention, engagement, and developing strategic alignment. Mr. Tom Roth is COO for Wilson Learning Worldwide. He assists global executive leadership teams with issues related to employee engagement, leadership development, strategy alignment, and business transformation. Mr. Roth is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences. He speaks on a variety of issues, including leadership, employee and customer engagement, change, and strategy implementation. He is published in numerous business publications.


“I appreciate that ‘employee engagement’ is all the rage of late, and that as you ponder Unplugged you may be asking yourself, ‘Do I really need another book on this?’ To that I can only shake my head and bemuse, ‘When was the last time you read something so essential and so fundamental that it was, seemingly contradictorily, also awe-inspiring and revelatory? That it so infused your work with meaning and purpose that it improved the outright quality of your life—both on and off the field?’” Dr. Blake Leathe, President, The Leathe Group and author of Cultivating the Strategic Mind: Growing from Leader to Visionary, Creator and Architect of Strategy.

Unplugged is an important overview and reference guide for any leader who cares about working in teams and managing people for top performance. It will join a select few business books that are well worn, read and reread as leaders encounter new situations and want to remind themselves of the fundamentals. Dr. Sarah Kelly head of Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule, Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development,‘Unplugged’ is the culmination of numerous progressive management programs and techniques that helped guide us through business cycles to continuous success. An excellent, concise reference book, well written with relatable examples.”Andy Fulton, President, ME Global Inc

“Working with Dr. Steve Buchholz as a mentor and CEO coach for over two decades, I have learned the necessity of having a fully engaged workforce to successfully drive the business.  Without a highly engaged work culture, our business stagnated, and with it, the business flourished with its greatest years of growth and profitability and, being recognized as a “Best Place to Work” for 8 consecutive years. Every business leader and CEO needs to heed the invaluable advice of the authors in this book for the only way to create true sustainable success.” —Joe Grabowski, CEO – Retired Wenck Enterprises, Inc

“In Unplugged, Buchholz and Roth clarify why and how organizations lose the energy of their people, and what leaders must do to reengage their employees. The authors also define the key features of essence-based leadership which contribute to establishing a coherent and united culture. If you are waiting for wise advice on how to preserve the emotional engagement inside your organization, add value to your clients, and build sustainability and differentiation, this is the right book for you.” —Alberto Pérez La Rotta, author ofIntegrated Business Transformation