Deciding whether a company’s work environment is engaging or not is a highly personal experience according to researchers at The Ken Blanchard Companies. In a new article for Chief Learning Officer magazine the researchers identify that employees experience their environment differently—even when they are looking at the same set of circumstances.
Take, for example, the idea of Connectedness with Colleagues, one of twelve factors identified in the research as contributing to a motivating work environment. For some team members, sharing updates on a monthly basis meets their needs for feeling informed and in the loop. For others, meeting anything less than once a day leaves them feeling isolated. If a group has a team norm of meeting once a week—a pretty standard practice—how do people from each camp feel about the team’s performance in staying connected? Chances are that members of the first group feel that that the team is excellent at connectedness because it communicates four times more than they personally feel is necessary, while members from the second group rate the team low on this aspect because it only meets once a week, which is less than what they are expecting.
So how does a leader deal with all of the different expectations that people have in the workplace? The answer is to see colleagues and direct reports as distinct, individual people with different needs and expectations. Here are three tips for getting started:
- Recognize that people have different needs, desires, and expectations. There is a tendency to believe that everyone perceives the environment the same and has the same needs and desires. The reality is that each of us sees things differently based on our beliefs and past experiences.
- Explore these differences. Build some time into your next one-on-one discussion to discover the degree to which your people are personally experiencing growth, autonomy, connectedness, and collaboration in the organization. For team members, include an agenda item to discuss these elements of an engaging workplace at an upcoming meeting.
- Look for early wins. While some factors will be best addressed at an organizational level, there are still many factors that can be addressed locally inside of a department or team. Identify what those factors are and how they can be addressed.
Employee engagement is a hot topic these days and there are a lot of ways to approach it. For leaders looking at improving overall engagement in their organizations, it’s important to keep in mind that the process is also intensely personal. To learn more about the Blanchard research on this topic, be sure to check out Employee Work Passion: A New Look at Engagement in this month’s Chief Learning Officer magazine.