What goes on
Engagement has become an industry in its own right and it’s not having the impact everyone wanted it to. All the measures show levels of engagement aren’t moving forward despite all this work and effort.
It’s a natural human instinct to want to feel engaged – we’re social animals and we typically want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. That includes our work, so a lack of engagement can be frustrating.
The answer lies partly in a couple of high performance principles – firstly, take responsibility for your beliefs, attitudes and behaviours and secondly, accept and embrace the conditions you face.
Five performance truths
- Engagement has been disconnected from performance and results. If engagement is going to be meaningful, it has to directly connect with what people are doing to get the results they want (performance) and the results they are getting. Engagement has lost its original purpose.
- Many people are waiting for the perfect conditions to be created before they feel they can be engaged. That’s impractical, not very useful and unnecessary. We’ve seen a lot of highly engaged people in less than perfect playing conditions.
- Engagement is typically parent – child and that’s unhelpful too. Engagement is not something leaders can “do’ to people they lead, any more that you can do love to someone. Leaders can create the best possible conditions and then it’s up to everyone to make their choices and do their bit.
- Annual engagement surveys are often used as the primary tool for measuring engagement and deciding on what action to take. That’s like rating a movie on the basis of seeing a still photograph from one of the scenes.
- Some of the questions in typical engagement surveys are aimed at shallow happiness rather than high performance. Now there’s nothing wrong with a bit of shallow happiness, but it’s not why engagement was invented and became a ‘thing”.
Three things to do
- Figure out the things that are important to you to feel emotionally connected to a job or an activity.
- Seek out opportunities to bring that to life every day in the reality of your current role and current playing conditions.
- Use your 3C’s to help you decide where to focus or engagement building activities.
Eddie was feeling pretty disconnected from his work. It was impacting his motivation, his performance was beginning to be less consistent and he was concerned that his results would suffer.
Through some coaching, he realised that he had a clear choice, both of which came with a price. He could carry on as he was, feeling pretty crap and await the drop in performance and results.
He could look elsewhere for a place where he felt his engagement would be greater because it might meet more of what he needed. He knew that might take some time and that there were things about his work and the people there that he really liked.
He could change his approach to his current role and job using a lot of the ideas in this guide and the tool. That would take effort and discipline and while it might be simple, it wouldn’t be easy.
He wasn’t sure which choice he would make, though knowing that he had a choice felt much better. He could now at least take responsibility for his own engagement.