Employee Engagement Should be a Two-Way Street

    I wrote a blog article last December called Employee Engagement – not as hard as you think.  According to a recent Gallup Poll (Oct 2011) 71% of American workers are ‘not engaged’ or are ‘actively disengaged’ in their work.  In the blog I talked about things an employer or manager can do to help their employees be more engaged.  Ever since I wrote it, I’ve been wondering if there is another, equally critical, side to this issue.

    What is Engagement?

    Just as a refresher, what is employee engagement?  There is no shortage of articles and books to read on the subject.  According to Wikipedia, an engaged employee is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. Sounds like a great employee.

    As an employer, how do you make sure your employees are engaged?  If you search for an answer, be prepared for the avalanche of opinions. They will range from ‘listen to your employees’, to ‘make them feel valued so they deliver value’, to ‘meet individual needs’. All, and much more, are critical in helping to engage your employees.

    The Other Side

    I’m curious though.  What if we looked at employee engagement from the employee’s viewpoint? What would that look like?

    As an employee, you should ask yourself, how can I be more engaged today?  What can I do differently in my position today to make a difference in the company I work for?

    Do you feel connected to the company’s mission and values?  Do you know what they are?  If not, find them, print them out, and post them in your workspace. Figure out how to connect with them.  There has to be a way, or you wouldn’t still be in the job you’re in.

    Next, ask yourself, what motivates me? Is it salary, recognition, position, time off?  Figure it out and tell your manager. Hopefully they’ve already asked.  But if not, tell them.

    Ask your manager to help you reach your job and career goals. See that award on your co-worker’s desk from last quarter.  Ask your manager what you can do this quarter to earn that award.  Put a plan in place.  Break down the steps and go to work.  Want the corner office?  That may be a longer plan.  Even if it’s something you want 3-5 years down the road, a good manager should be able to help you identify the significant milestones you’ll need to reach in order to get there.

    Yes, good companies know they should listen to you, their employee.  And they know they should be asking what motivates you to give your best, and then helping you to do just that.  But I think engagement needs to be a two-way street.  Don’t ask how is my company going to engage me?  When do I get a raise? Why does that person always get recognized?

    What can you do today to make your company successful?

    Instead ask, what do I need to do differently? How do I engage differently so that I can reach my goals?  What can I do today to help my company reach its goals and fulfill its mission?  If you figure that out and actually do it, the payoff and the feeling of accomplishment will be incredible. As I’m sure any individual on a winning sports team will tell you, being a part of something successful is a great feeling. Knowing you played a big role in making it successful is even better.

    I’d like to repeat myself here: As an employee, ask yourself, how can I be more engaged today?  What can I do differently in my position today to make a difference in the company I work for?

    Blessings, Anne

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