Recently, I read an inspirational story about how people show love. The point of the story is that some people expect love to arrive in a certain form, and when it does not, they feel unnoticed and unloved. However, the love they seek may be there, but just in a different form than the way in which they expect to see it. So, they miss the love altogether!
It occurred to me that this may also be true of engagement. In the workplace, we may expect others to demonstrate their commitment to engagement in certain ways, and when they do not, we may feel they lack engagement. However, their effort may be real, and their way of showing engagement may just be different from the way in which we expect to receive it.
Of course, there may be many reasons for this, and one of the objects of engagement is to better understand our differences and how each of us contributes. It may be worth reminding ourselves, though, that engagement comes in many forms. This is part of the value of diversity in an organization.
I would like to share with you a few of the many ways in which you may be experiencing engagement from others. In some cases, you may not recognize it as engagement, because it is not expected, comes in a form not labeled as “engagement,” or does not look or feel like what you anticipated. But each represents a way in which someone may be demonstrating their engagement to you and their support of your contributions, every day!
Team members may show engagement through active, positive participation in their work, the activities of the team, and the success of team members. People who are highly participatory may smile, offer assistance, to team members, demonstrate a high level of commitment,, and be focused on opportunities to create a positive work experience.
Individuals who engage through inclusion will seek to make others feel that their contributions are valued. They may encourage dialog and facilitation, expand the boundaries of participation and discussion, work to encourage a spirit of diversity, and promote an open company culture. They will be sensitive to issues or concerns that may limit the participation of team members.
Some individuals demonstrate engagement by sharing their time with others. They find a way to make someone’s load lighter and to do those things that are “not my job.” They are people others feel comfortable coming to for help or advice, or for moral support when facing a difficult decision or conversation. They also take time to celebrate another person’s success or accomplishment.
Some people offer their talents in demonstrating engagement. They may be willing to share their talents with another employee who is in need of their expertise for a project or task. They may also be willing to share their talents for company events or outings, or to help a fellow employee with a unique need, such as a community project, or a commitment to a non-profit organization supported by the company.
Sometimes, individuals share their engagement in the form of treasure. They contribute to company sponsored events, partnerships, or causes. They make donations to help another employee facing an emergency. They bring donuts to work for team members, celebrate a birthday, or provide a gift of recognition to a team member or employee.
Some individuals demonstrate engagement through empathy. They have a willing ear for the challenges of others. They show appreciation for the difficulty of the situation and an interest in offering encouragement or advice. They share in the anticipation of a positive outcome, and celebrate it when it arrives.
There are many ways in which team members show engagement through support of one another. They may carpool, help with daily or special tasks, provide support for special projects, or volunteer when it is needed. They are there when something needs to be done that no one else wants, or has the time, to do.
Mentoring is an important role in an engaged culture, both in terms of integration of new employees, and development of employees throughout their career. Mentors demonstrate engagement by taking time and sharing their contacts and expertise to develop others and contribute to their success, and that of the organization.
Some individuals demonstrate engagement through coaching. They may offer their coaching expertise in the form of mentoring, but also it may be offered in another form. These individuals may encourage, observe, prod, cheer, and even rant in support of a “win” for their “corporate athlete.”
Disagreement, or playing “devil’s advocate” may be a form of engagement that is unexpected and unrecognized. Those who are willing to think through an issue or problem, offer an honest opinion, and debate all the angles with a fellow employee may help them to arrive at a positive outcome.
Organizations have many “borders” and boundaries. One of the most valuable ways in which engagement is received is through assistance in crossing these boundaries when needed, or knowing the appropriate contacts or “terrain” in another area of the company. Individuals often show engagement by helping others cross these borders, and return safely!
Affirmation is a valuable way in which engagement is shown to others. Affirming their value, intentions, and potential, as well as a decision or commitment they are making, may contribute greatly to a team member’s success and confidence for the future.
Engagement is often shown through dependability. Those who are dependable are often sought by others to “be there,” both physically and through their willingness to listen and follow through on requests and commitments. Their contributions create a stable environment for others, and greater productivity for the company.
These are a few of the ways in which you may be receiving the gift of engagement every day. How many of these do you recognize? What others would you add to the list? In which of these ways do you offer your gift of engagement to others?