Engagement simply refers to the process in which an ongoing network of exchanges between people changes their behavior. These exchange patterns, when repeated in an environment where information, ideas and views are being exchanged across the group drive engagement.
Employee engagement goes beyond activities, games, and events. It actually drives performance. Research shows that engaged employees are able to look at the whole of the company and understand their purpose, where they fit in, and how their contribution to the work matters. This leads to better individual decision-making. Organizations with an engaged workforce outperform the competition.
There are 3 key things to remember about successful engagement:
1. Engagement Requires Interaction. I do not mean interaction in just a one-to-one environment (like a boss to an employee) but in one-to-many exchanges in a networked process. It works best when the exchanges are multi-directional (across the entire team - who are all linked in a common mission or purpose). This continuous exchange of information, ideas and views creates sustained behavior change.
2. Engagement Requires Cooperation. Everyone must feel a sense of "belonging" to the group. and that their individual contribution actually matters to the overall outcome. So often, we fail to realize this as leaders - and we force our team to see their work as merely a "to-do" list rather than making a real contribution.
3. Engagement Requires Building Trust. Never forget that an expectation of future fair and cooperative exchanges is built on a history of fairness. We must make the investment first in extending support to others long before we should expect anything in return. It's called investing our "social capital."
If you're looking to really understand and build engagement, begin by addressing these core questions. If you answer "no" to any of these key questions, it is likely that overall engagement is far less than optimal. Have you built a culture that motivates, empowers, challenges and respects the employees (your shared values)? Have you really framed your company's big "why" - your larger purpose than just making money (your mission)? Do employees understand where the organization is going (your vision)? Have you clearly drawn a picture of your organization so that everyone understand how their contribution matters? Are you investing in your employee's personal and professional growth?
Employee Engagement Is:
Getting up in the morning thinking, “I’m excited about going to work today."
Understanding one’s role in an organization and where it fits in the organization’s purpose.
Being given a voice in the company's journey and having those views considered as decisions are made.
Receiving regular and constructive feedback.
Being supported in developing new professional skills.
Being recognized for achievement.
Feeling pride in our individual contribution.
Being a great advocate of the company to users and customers.
Going the extra mile to finish a piece of work.
Drawing on the team's ideas to improve products and services.
Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.
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