What Drives Engagement?
What drives engagement at your work place? What disrupts it? I bet you have
an answer to that second question, if not the first. In this blog I want to
share a couple of different insights into what makes employee engagement
go up… and down. By the way, how engaged are you at where you work?…
and the reason why?
Engagement is sort of a funny thing, the very things that set us up to feel
disengaged, you know where you go to work because its a pay check,
doesn’t nearly cover all the things required to build engagement. Let me explain.
First off, what kills engagement? It’s pretty simple. Whatever you say, it
probably has a big D word in front of it:
Typically one or more things happen in which something doesn’t feel fair.
Not feeling fairly treated, not feeling appropriately recognized, not feeling
included, not feeling like you have a voice, a say in the decision making,
not feeling like you get access to available opportunities… it all leads to one
of those D words, which translates into you feeling and acting less engaged
where you work.
Ok, we got that defined, let’s flip it. What creates better engagement,
what builds it up?
If you look on the web, you might think engagement was based upon
recognition and reward programs. Getting a Starbucks or Amazon gift card,
or maybe a star or an award next to your name in the software directory.
Don’t get me wrong, we all need recognition, and almost no one gets enough
of it, but come on, really, that’s the key to building engagement? There’s got
to be more.
I had a conversation with Richard Axelrod today, the author of a book you
should read, Terms of Engagement. He uncovers a number of myths about
engagement, reports success in a number of organizations by focusing on
the following four actions, which you would be advised to look into:
1. Widening the circle (getting lots of people involved, and having a voice)
2. Connecting people to each other, stripping away power differences
3. Create communities for action
4. Promote fairness
But let me give you something in this blog to work with, it might just be
the best paradigm shift you encounter today.
You see I don’t see engagement as one phenomenon. It’s multi-sided, if
not separate forces that feed into what we might think of a engagement.
Take a look at this image for a second. First of all engagement can be
thought of in 3 different perspectives and actions unique to each:
1. Engagement with others – acting in a proactive, accountable, positive
manner with others.
2. Engagement with the work product – being really involved in the quality
of work that you produce and the customers’ experience in using it
3. Engagement with yourself – working on yourself to develope genuiness,
congruency, transparency and warmth, versus walling sides of yourself of
such that people see you one way and you see yourself another.
Yes improving engagement is more than a rewards program; it’s more than
a town-hall meeting, etc, and yet it includes all of them. Richard’s book
gives you a number of illustration and tips for working on engagement
with others and to some extent with your self. You’ll find that
personal scorecards and close connection with the customer experience
will drive the engagement with work product. Probably the biggest sleeper
I find in working with people is engaging with themself as source of building
engagement. I repeat often in person, so let me repeat it here in my blog:
You can’t take people (read improve their engagement) to a
higher level without having already gone there yourself.
Bottom Line: Employee engagement easily founders through
experiences of lack of fairness, trust or consistency. The good news
is that you can improve employee engagement across three different
channels, each with their own set of actions. If you research engagement at
all, you will find there are terrific incentives for improving engagement.
PS. Give us a call at (877) 487-3001 if you are interesting in building
up engagement where you work, we have both the consulting services
and software (ManagePro) to help you do exactly that.