Employee Engagement: A Key Learning from Super Bowl XLV

Who did you root for in yesterday’s game? If you didn’t happen to live in Pittsburgh or Green Bay, you probably had a decision to make.  That process you went through—and your eventual decision, can teach you a lot about employee engagement.  Give me a minute and let me explain.

Each year, the Super Bowl gives sports fans everywhere a chance to experience the process that employees go through when they are identifying whether a particular company is a good place to work or not.  That’s because most people, unless they happen to live in one of the two competing team’s home cities, have a decision to make.  Who to root for? 

Because most of the people who are watching the game are not necessarily fans of either team before the broadcast, people have to evaluate the environment, compare it against their beliefs and past experiences, and then make an emotional decision that wraps it all up.  For example:

  • Big Ben and I both graduated from Miami of Ohio
  • Because Mrs. Shumate, my second grade teacher liked the Packers
  • Because Pittsburgh’s minor league baseball team plays here in Bradenton
  • Because my daughter lives in Pittsburgh
  • Because Packers are in same division as my team

And so everyone has to decide which team they’re going to root for. It’s the same process when an employee looks at a new work environment and decides whether it is a good place to work or not.  For example, at work, people look at a variety of different factors in deciding whether a particular company is a good fit for them including:

  • Pay and benefits
  • Growth opportunities
  • Culture

It will typically be a combination factors, some logical and some emotional, but always individual and personalized because each individual looks at their work environment differently and makes a decision based on their own experiences.  What is motivating for one employee is not the same for another.

So what’s a manager to do? 

  1. First, recognize that everyone is different.
  2. Have conversations with your people.
  3. Ask them what motivates them and what creates a personally engaging work environment.

You’ll find out that the answers are as diverse as the reasons people have for choosing which team to root for.

To learn more about the process that people go through in determining whether a particular work environment is engaging or not, check out the white paper, From Engagement to Work Passion.  It will show you eight of the factors that people typically look at and the process they use in deciding.

2 thoughts on “Employee Engagement: A Key Learning from Super Bowl XLV

  1. Superb post. What do you do with people who tell you: I’m fine? All approaches for motivation and uncovering their driving forces just end up in: I am fine and “I feel very happy to do what I do”. (so there is no motivation to see).

    • Hi Akos–thanks for your question. I think it is really a matter of making sure that the employee telling you they are “fine” truly is. If you believe they are being honest with their feelings, that is good news. If you suspect that they might be saying “fine” because they don’t want to talk about it–or think it won’t matter–then it would be important to probe a little deeper.

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