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The Employee’s Role in Employee Engagement

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Employee Engagement is a topic that’s continues to get air time.  As the Gallup Organization recently reported, ”. . . engagement has proved to be a powerful predictor of many key organizational outcomes, including profitability, productivity, customer engagement, quality, safety, and retention.”  I am fascinated by how significant engagement can be to an organization’s success or failure.  Recently, I read and article from the Gallup Journal that focuses on the cost of disengagement.  Specifically, the article states that “the quality of a workplace can be linked to depression and anxiety among workers, [and]  . . . these illnesses can have a significant impact on job performance and on employees’ personal lives.”  Wow.  Through research that organizations like Gallup have developed, we know a lot more about the benefits of engagement.  And, we’re learning more about the cost of disengagement.  So, the question I’m pondering with all of this is how much responsibility lies with organizations to create “engagement” versus the responsibility of employees to choose to be engaged.

I admit that I’m challenging some of my own belief systems by asking this question.  I have Tweeted a lot about the topic and the role of leaders in focusing on employee engagement as a critical business driver.  Nonetheless, I feel compelled to explore the ownership of one’s own level of engagement.  First of all, I don’t believe the message to employees should be, “Get engaged or get lost.”  Rather, I think the message is, “It’s a team thing.”  In other words, we each have a role here.  Leaders, you must create a compelling and inspiring workplace.  Employees, you must show up and commit.  I choose to focus on the employee in this blog post.  Let’s give leaders a break . . . for the time being.

Okay, team.  It’s time to show up.  Whether or not you have a leader who understands the importance of engaging employees, you have a responsibility to bring your best to work every day.  Sure, it can be challenging.  But, you are definitely not going to get the scoop on the new project, get a shot at that new job, or be able to demonstrate that you’re the person your leader should be considering for that next promotion unless you are present and accounted for.  So, how do you get yourself motivated to walk in each day with an open mind and heart?  On many days, we may feel inspired by an initiative we’re deeply involved with or by a team effort that is allowing us to work “elbow-to-elbow” with someone we enjoy.  That can be enough to bring us skipping into the office.  Too bad some days aren’t like that.  Sometimes, we find ourselves not so wildly fired up over that report that has to be written or managing the “scope-creep” of the project we’ve been leading for 10 months.  Ugh.  How do you get yourself motivated?  Strengths and discipline.

Strengths.  Marcus Buckingham talks strengths with a boatload of research behind him: “Years of research prove that individuals and teams playing to their strengths significantly outperform those who don’t in almost every business metric.”  You’ve got to find out what makes you feel strong and do that as much as possible during your work day.  Strengths are not just things that you’re good at.  Strengths are those activities that make you feel competent and give you the energy to want to do more.  Do you know what your strengths are?  If not, find out.  A great assessment is one that Marcus helped create when he worked with the Gallup Organization.  It’s called the Clifton Strengthsfinder.

Discipline.  Find a system that helps you bring your best to work even when you’re not particularly inspired to do so.  That might come in the form of professional coaching to help you get organized.  Or, it might be a goal-setting process.  One of the best support systems for discipline in my book is the bestselling book by the incomparable Dr. Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  For more than 15 years, this amazing book has helped millions of people bring their best to their daily lives.

Got any other ideas on how employees can own their engagement?  Drop me a line and let me know.

With respect,


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Posted In: Employee Engagement, Motivation, Strengths, Uncategorized