Employee Engagement: Who is responsible?

We often hear how important employee engagement is. Study after study demonstrates higher productivity, less absenteeism, higher customer satisfaction and so on. For a list of 28 studies you can go here.

So if employee engagement is important how do we get our employees to take more responsibility for engagement? Yes, employees have a lot of control over their engagement. They can choose the intention to be engaged and work on their attitude. This goes a long way. Our attitude has a lot to do with our results in life.

But can a positive attitude overcome a negative or even toxic environment? No; we have all heard the phrase how much poison does it take to spoil the punch…one drop. In fact research shows that the highest performing teams have a a ratio of 5.6:1 positive comments to negative comments in the workplace 

In fact to really ensure an environment where employees are engaged it takes more than just being positive. According to Daniel Pink in his book Drive we can engage the motive power of our employees by tapping into three drives.

  • The Drive for mastery that is the drive to develop skills and aptitude that allow the employee to get better and better at their job to the point of mastery. As leaders what can we do to facilitate and take advantage of the drive? I know one firm that has a library and self learning module that the employees can engage on their own time to develop skills and demonstrate their understanding in order to improve their responsibilities.
  • The Drive for autonomy or control. That is the ability to control their environment to some extent. While they have duties, tasks and responsibilities, how much control can managers give them in how they carry them out? What best practices might emerge? How else can we give our employees a sense of control?
  • A sense of Purpose, that is serving something bigger than themselves or the bottom line. This is the role of the leader to continually reinforce the mission and the purpose of the organization and how the employee’s roles fit into the bigger picture. For years I have heard from the billing office staff how the people at registration just didn’t complete all of the information. And it was because they did not recognize their role in the larger purpose.

When we as leaders are able to help our employees tap into their Drives for Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose we can have fully engaged employees that are working not just to get the job done but to deliver above and beyond what’s needed to get by.

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