Employee Engagement: 3 ways YOU can help (based on your role in the organization)

27% of workers worldwide are actively disengaged according to the latest survey conducted by the Gallup Organization.  In their latest report, The State of the Global Workplace, Gallup breaks down engagement figures for 50 different countries.  Re-energizing and re-invigorating today’s employees remains a key concern for leaders at companies everywhere.

Last week over 5,000 people joined The Ken Blanchard Companies for a Quit and Stayed Leadership Livecast looking at strategies for reducing the number of people who have mentally and emotionally “checked out” from their organization.  What can you do to improve engagement levels in your organization?  Plenty—depending on your role in the organization.  Here are some recommendations if you are a senior leader, frontline manager, or an individual contributor.

Senior leaders.

From senior leaders, the biggest need is two-fold.  1. Recognize the issue exists. 2.  Put a plan in place to reconnect people to the organization’s mission, vision, and values.  Legendary CEO of Herman Miller, Max De Pree, once likened leadership to being a 3rd-grade teacher.  You have to say it again and again, until people get it right, right, right.  As focused as organization have become on grinding it out in recent years, it’s easy to fall into a mentality of “same as last year—but 10% more.”  That might be the reality, but it’s not going to inspire anyone.  People come to work for a variety of reasons beyond taking home a paycheck.   (For example, opportunities to learn and exercise new skills, work together with others toward a common goal, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves.)  Examine your organization.  Has it become one-dimensional?  If you meet only a part of people’s needs, you will receive only a portion of their effort in return.  If you want people to be fully engaged at work, you have to meet all of their reasons for being there.

Frontline managers.

Take the time to notice what is going on in your specific area of the organization.  You have tremendous impact on an employee’s perceptions of their work environment by the ways that you operationalize company policies and strategies.  How are you encouraging or discouraging people to act?  What message are you sending?  Also, where are you at personally with getting your needs met at work?  Your experience translates into your people’s experience.  Are you portraying work as dull drudgery that has to be accomplished?  Are you telling people a story of doing more with less—with little hope for any change in the near future?  If that’s your attitude, what’s the experience your people are having?  Change your internal environment and change the environment for the people who report to you.  See a brighter future for yourself and others.

Individual contributors.

Don’t stand back and wait for someone else to motivate you.  Yes, senior leadership, company policies, and your immediate manager all play a role in creating your work environment, but ultimately it is your choice whether you are going to be motivated or not.  In any organization, working under the same exact conditions, a certain percentage of people are thriving, while others are merely surviving.  It’s easy to see yourself as a victim of your circumstances—but you have more choice than that.  Even during difficult times, some people thrive and shine.  Be one of those people.  To the best of your abilities, create the environment you need to succeed.  Look for ways to contribute.  Standing back with your arms crossed and a chip on your shoulder is not going to create new opportunities for you.  Be the person you want others to see you as.

Don’t miss your future

The economy is picking up.  Things are starting to improve.  Don’t let a tired attitude keep you–or your company–from taking advantage of new opportunities.  Review where you are at;  Can you see a bigger vision?  Do you see where you fit in?  Do you know what your next step is?  How can you help yourself and others get there?  Depending on where you sit in the organization, take action today!

5 thoughts on “Employee Engagement: 3 ways YOU can help (based on your role in the organization)

  1. Ken, I really like the point of view of individual contributors taking the onus for their own satisfaction. Surely, senior leaders and frontline managers should actively take actions to engage others. But what if they don’t? We will go nowhere in life if we stand on the sidelines with our arms crossed, waiting for someone to help us. Rather than transforming ourselves to improve the environment, we add to the problem and hope someone will “save” us.
    Here is to us all becoming part of the solution and taking some risk to improve things whether it’s a scary, yet authentic conversation with the boss or just helping shift a colleague’s POV.

    • Hi Sherry–thanks for adding your voice to the conversation. As you point out, we each have a role–and an action step we can take–in improving our work environment.

  2. I am currently working with a group of 20 disenfranchised professionals that form 2 distinctive sub-teams within an educational organization.

    Morale and motivation has deteriorated steadily over the last 12 months, which appears to be in alignment with the perceived ‘belt tightening’ and ‘increased compliance’ policies of the organization.

    Distractions such as these seem to have shifted their focus from ‘the reason’s why they are there’ to ‘the reasons why they think they don’t want to be there’.

    I am their manager and it’s my responsibility to put things right.

    Until now, I’ve never been big on reading. However, after an introduction to the One Minute Manager, The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey and The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams (and a few others – all since Christmas), I am reborn and putting into practice (and sharing) my knew knowledge.

    Today I achieved my first success and saw clear signs of a revival. My staff are my most expensive, complex and important assets. I am no longer unapproachable!

    • Hi Mick,
      Congratulations on your success and for putting these concepts into practice. Knowing what to do is the first step, putting the concepts into practice is the more difficult second step where so many managers struggle. Thanks for letting people know that change is possible if you are willing to put in the work. Best wishes for continued success!

  3. Pingback: Employee Engagement Depends Upon a Multitude of Models « WorkshopLouisville's Blog

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