A New Twist on Employee Engagement

A New Twist on Employee Engagement 150 150 Sharon Smith

I recently heard a speaker put a twist on employee engagement. She said that it isn’t engaged employees who are productive, but rather it is productive employees that are engaged. While at first I thought this sounded like a novel way to look at an age-old dilemma of employee engagement, upon further thought I have to disagree. Just because someone is productive, busy getting stuff done, meeting deadlines, checking things off the to-do list, does not mean they are contributing fully or really engaged. Just because they are productive does not mean they are not looking or willing to leave for the next great opportunity that comes knocking.

I was productive when I was an information security consultant. I spent my days working with clients, reviewing documentation, writing reports, and solving problems and my deliverables were always on time. But I was not satisfied or truly engaged and I was always trying to figure what I should do next. Now as an executive coach, trainer, and speaker I am fully engaged and productive.

Assuming a productive employee is engaged is a huge mistake for an employer. If my boss assumed that I was engaged because I was productive they were obviously mistaken and that can be costly when a good employee leaves, especially the ones you did not expect to lose or did not want to lose. We all know the cost of turnover is high, especially if you are employing specialists or are in a specialty field.

This article is not a “how to” on creating productive and engaged employees, there will be more on those topics in the future. This is meant to get you thinking and challenge your assumptions. If you think that just because you have productive employees that means you also have engaged employees this article is meant to challenge that paradigm. If you want to keep your talent and create a more powerful workforce you need to ensure they are truly engaged regardless of how productive you think they are.

Let’s dive in a little deeper here. Everyone wants to contribute in a certain way and there is no right or wrong way for this to happen. The challenge is that most people have not given it much thought as it relates to the work they chose to do and employers have not seen it as their responsibility to help their employees figure this out. The reason it actually is an organizational responsibility is because everyone is different, but many organizations and managers want to put everyone in the same box and tell them how to do their work instead of giving individuals the opportunity to work the way that makes sense for them.

Some people work very well in groups doing brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas and potential solutions while others really want to solve problems more independently. There are those who like creating systems and those who like creating relationships. Some of your employees want to make decisions through action while others want to make decisions through complex analysis. You have some sales people who are great at cold calls and are actually engaged in the process and others who want to be in the field, face-to-face with their prospects having conversations. Put the person who likes cold calls in the field or vice versa and you have just killed the engagement and productivity of those people who are actually great talent when able to contribute in the way that honors them.

Instead of putting people in positions based on a preconceived notion about what someone with a specific skill set should do, stop and ask critical questions: Who are you? How do you learn? How do you want to work? What is it that drives you to contribute fully? Of course this is just scratching the surface on how to best engage your employees by putting them in roles they will naturally want to contribute to with their full effort. The tool I use is called the Core Values Index (CVI) by Taylor Protocols and I use it with clients to do this very thing among others. You can take it for free by visiting www.c-suiteresults.com

When you find people productive and engaged I bet you big dollars that they are doing work that is truly aligned with who they are. They are doing work that actually lights them up, that they look forward to, and that they have control over. Why do you think so many people leave corporate America to start a business? It’s not because being an entrepreneur is easy or carefree. It is because they can do the work that they believe they are meant to be doing in the way they feel that they are meant to do it, which they did not experience in their corporate job. If more people were able to contribute at work the way they are meant to contribute I bet more good employees would stay employees.

If you are ready examine this in more detail then I recommend bringing in a professional. Someone who can help you examine your current situation, help you create a change plan where it’s needed, and support you along the way. Of course you can start looking at this on your own, but often when you are too close to the problem it can be very hard to see the gaps and even harder to come up with the solutions. Remember specialists are here to help you, they are not a sign of weakness. Just like you see a specialist to look at a medical issue, a coach to help your golf game, and an accountant to take care of the books, specialists have their place in your life and in your business. Change specialists, coaches, and management consultants are here for a reason.

Ask around, do your homework, and find someone that understands you and that you feel comfortable with. If you want a free consult with an executive coach, I am available to discuss your situation. You can reach me at sharon@c-suiteresults.com and learn more at www.c-suiteresults.com.

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