Employee engagement is about engaging now not some future state we must strive towards
To live for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top. ~ Robert M. Pirsig
Engage now, where you are, with what you are doing.
Picture Credit: Seeing is believing … by http://flickr.com/photos/lapidim/105208106/
Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #15 (Early release)
by David Zinger
If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will. ~ Mother Teresa
Don’t let your employee engagement messages go to the dogs or lull people to sleep.
How do we provide emotional rescue to ensure that people care about an idea? Do we foster empathy in the way we present our ideas? Can we velcro our idea with an idea that people already care about? Can we show others the benefit of our idea not just for who they are but who they could become?
If we take people only as they are, then we make them worse; if we treat them as if they were what they should be, then we bring them to where they can be brought. ~ Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe
Chapter 5 of Made to Stick outlines the emotional component of stickiness. The emotional goal is to make people care because feelings inspire us to act.
Here are are a few points to consider when crafting messages to foster higher levels of engagement:
- Did I communicate empathy for people who may feel disengaged?
- Do I know what people really care about and can I twine this with employee engagement?
- Do employees see the benefit of engagement for themselves now and in the future?
If we take the last point for example. It appears to me that people who are fully engaged at work are also able to fully engage in retirement while people who are disengaged at work and dream of being engaged in life when they retire have a hard time engaging in retirement. There is an old statement that goes retirement is being tired twice: first tired of working, then tired of not working.
Here is a summary from chapter 5 of Made to Stick:
How can we make people care about our ideas? We get them to take off their Analytical hats. We create empathy for specific individuals. We show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about. We appeal to their self-interest, but we also appeal to their identities — not only to the people they are right now but also to the people they would like to be.
- Work at leveraging the motion inherent in the emotions of engagement.
- Care enough to really know who you work with, to know what they care about, and to mesh your caring with the encouragement, empowerment, and tools to be fully engaged yourself at work and to foster high levels of employee engagement.
Winner for Unexpectedness is worth $1.75: Dan Whitmarsh was the winner of the grand sum of $1.75 for triggering the unexpected thought of the Three Musketeers and employee engagement. Employee engagement is one for all and all for one. To demonstrate his sense of one for all, Dan asked my to donate his winnings to the Tim Horton’s send a kid to camp campaign.
Picture Credit: Jackson Tries to Contain His Excitement By http://flickr.com/photos/itsgreg/106561656/
Do you see relaxation as the opposite of work and effort? Perhaps you believe relaxation is something you do after work? I believe we perform at our best when we relax into work or performance. Our thinking can prohibit engagement or prolong emlpoyee disengagement.
Here is a short paragraph from J. J. Gibbs, Dancing With Your Books: The Zen Way of Studying:
Relaxed Mind, Alert Mind. Relaxation does not mean that the mind goes to sleep. It means to let go to allow the mind to devote its full power to the task at hand. Emptying the mind or letting go is liberation from disquieting thoughts and feelings so our mind’s light can shine directly and exclusively on the present moment, the task at hand. The remaining mid is relaxed by alert. It is taut and ready; poised to deal with whatever present circumstances demand.
The next time you find yourself struggling to stay engaged with your work, take a deep breath, inspire yourself, and relax into your effort.
Can you hear your echo? Reflect on Barrie Shepley’s Personal Best Newsletter story about the echo:
A son and his father were walking in the mountains. Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” To his surprise, hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” Curious, he yells: “Who are you?” He receives the answer: “Who are you?” Angered at the response, he screams: “Coward!” He receives the answer: “Coward!” He looks to his father and asks: “What’s going on?” The father smiles and says: “My son, pay attention.” And then he screams to the mountain: “I admire you!” The voice answers: “I admire you!” Again the man screams: “You are a champion!” The voice answers: “You are a champion!” The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: “People call this echo, but really this is life. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions.
When we engage in our work our work engages us.
- Click here to subscribe to Barrie’s weekly newsletter. Barrie Shepley has been Canada’s National Triathlon Team coach since 1991 and he has coached over 500 people to national championship titles, Pan American Games medals, World Championship medals as well as successful completion of the Hawaii Ironman and the Boston Marathon. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from Barrie’s best!
- Monitor your engagement during this week. When you decide to fully engage in work, even when you don’t feel like it, what does your overall engagement feel like an hour later? If you are like most people you will find the echo of your engagement strengthens you as you engage in your work.
Picture Credit: “His goal in life was to be an echo” by http://flickr.com/photos/dietpoison/204585367/
We must make our moments count in employee engagement.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is
paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation.
Mindfulness is to engage fully in life and is integral to fully engaging in our work.
Photo Credit: Impermanenceby Josh Bonfili: http://flickr.com/photos/photomofo/364058611/
Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #14
The key concept from chapter four of Made to Stick is to make your ideas “edible” by you and the idea being credible. Employees will bite into employee engagement when they trust the message and the messenger. As a leader you need to establish and leverage trust in the name of employee engagement.
When you make your ideas tangible and concrete they become more real and more believable. A lot of credibility is in the details or story you tell — so do not neglect the vivid and specific “d-tale” of engagement.
Three specific tips in the chapter include:
- Make statistics accessible.
- Find a powerful example
- Get a testable credential.
There are many statistics on employee engagement ranging from overall levels of engagement to the costs of disengagement. Find a way to communicate this to employees in a way that they can readily grasp.
Here is an example taken from a poll of 23,000 employees cited in Stephen Covey’s, The 8th Habit:
- Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
- Only 20 percent were enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals; said they have a clear link between their tasks and their team’s organizational goals; and, fully trusted the organization they worked for.
- Only 15 percept felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals
Stephen Covey made the idea sticky by using this soccer analogy:
If a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.
With this analogy Covey makes you fully realize the impact of these numbers on teamwork in a specific and credible way.
When you speak about employee engagement find powerful examples that establish credibility. Use a testable credential. Have employees conduct an engagement experiment to see what the impact is for themselves, their performance, and their organization.
- Whenever you cite employee engagement statistics find a schema or analogy that the listeners or reader will be able to relate to.
- Make a testable credential offer to employees about engagement that they can try out to determine their own level of engagement.
- Use the Sinatra test. In the song “New York, New York,” Frank sings, If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. In employee engagement, this would mean finding a strongly disengaged team or department and igniting their engagement. If you can make employee engagement work with the disgruntled team you can make it work anywhere.
Picture Credit: England away by http://flickr.com/photos/atomicshed/175638710/
Read David K. Reynolds passage from page 5 of Constructive Living:
You see, the fully functioning human being isn’t someone who is utterly free of pain and happy all the time. Not at all. The mature human being goes about doing what needs to be done regardless of whether that person feels great or terrible. Knowing that you are that kind of person with that kind of self-control brings all the satisfaction and confidence you will ever need. Even on days when the satisfaction and confidence just aren’t there, you can get the job done anyway.
Can you just do it?
Picture Credit: Mars: Endurance Crater by http://flickr.com/photos/toptechwriter/480791325/
Are you ready to begin again by looking at employee engagement with fresh eyes?
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.
Picture Credit: Tricycle! by http://flickr.com/photos/yonajon/90131935/
Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #13
A key principle from Made to Stick is to make your ideas sticky with a concrete approach. When you pour out abstractions or general ideas go the next step by transforming them into statements that are particular and individual.
The benefit of making employee engagement concrete is in helping employees understand and remember the key idea and to help them coordinate their efforts.
For example, spell out exactly what behaviors would demonstrate high levels of engagement. If you want employees to increase their discretionary effort let them know what that means. Some employees might believe it merely means more hours of work while others believe it means they decide what to do and when to do it.
Another example of concreteness is to provide specific examples of people who are demonstrating high levels of employee engagement. Or communicate specific engagement goals. For example when the 727 passenger plane was being designed it would have been easy to have set a goal of “build the best passenger plane in the world.” Instead, Boeing set a very concrete design goal:
The 727 must seat 131 passengers, fly nonstop from Miami to New York City, and land on runway 4-22 at La Guardia.
- Transform any generalities or abstract notions of employee engagement into concrete with specific statements that make them memorable and airborne. For example, change we encourage more discretionary effort to ”2 4 Tuesdays at 2.” This means we expect you to use 2 hours every Tuesday between 2 and 4 o’clock to work on projects that you determine will make a contribution to the organization, your department, and yourself! Write a concrete, specific, and vivid statement that articulates employee engagement for yourself or your workplace.
Photo Credit: Virginia G – I need more concrete: http://flickr.com/photos/vgasull/427979542/
Photo Credit: Sunny Runway – From Flickr Creative Commons – by http://flickr.com/photos/bpuppy/188786729/
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. ~ Heny David Thoreau
In the large pond of workers are you suffering from employee disengagement or hearing your song of engagement? Read my review of the third video of Marcus Buckingham’s Trombone Player Wanted for some guidance on how to leverage your strengths for full engagement.
Photo Credit: Jordan makes light music by – http://flickr.com/photos/jasoneppink/80772526/
zen perspectives on employee engagement
The greatest analgesic, soporific, stimulant, tranquilizer, narcotic and, to some extent, even antibiotic – in short, the closest thing to a genuine panacea – known to medical science is work.
Well, well, well. If you work well you may be well at work. Instead of a vicious cycle of disengagement work may create a vivacious cycle of engagement.
Photo Credit: Good Luck and Happiness by http://www.flickr.com/photos/hobo_pd/339564960/
The 7 Olympic quarters offered as the prize in my last post are not the “spy” quarters that created the U.S. Defence Department warnings. The olympic quarters show peaceful Canadians engaged either in curling or hockey. Okay, hockey isn’t necessarily peaceful but it is not exactly espionage either.
Here is the snippet of the story:
WASHINGTON — An odd-looking Canadian coin with a bright red flower was the culprit behind a U.S. Defense Department false espionage warning earlier this year about mysterious coin-like objects with radio frequency transmitters, The Associated Press has learned.The harmless “poppy coin” was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as “anomalous” and “filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology,” according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP. The silver-colored 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy – Canada’s flower of remembrance - inlaid over a maple leaf.
You have 6 more days to enter the contest and I have decided to sweeten the prize by offering an additional Canadian quater - The Veteran quarter: A 3-headed quarter that will only flip heads.
I have one entry so far from Dan Whitmarsh who suggested all is one. Click here to read the last post and create a unexpected comment about: Employee Engagement for All.