Whose job is it to increase employee engagement?
Typically, the focus has been on company-wide initiatives from HR and the role of the manager.
Those are definitely good starting points, but what about the individual employees themselves?
The cynics will say this is just pushing it all on the employee or that it enables out of touch C-level executives to say, “It’s their fault not ours!”
But we can’t be afraid to have an honest conversation around the importance of intrinsic motivation, and an individual’s obligation to be engaged and to drive the engagement of others.
Taking lessons from the positive psychology movement, there are three things people can can to proactively increase their own level of happiness and engagement at work.
First, employees need to identify the motivation triggers that matter to them most. While research will tell us what drivers are most important for the masses, we are all individuals. For example, I may really crave growth opportunities at the early stage of my career, while you might be more interested in recognition as you approach retirement.
Second, we need to teach employees to be mindful of all that companies and managers are already doing to drive engagement. One effective activity is to ask employees to write down all the things the company does to foster a specific area, like Communication. Some employees will write “Nothing” or “Weekly staff meeting”. But then share a long generic list of what many companies do, including items like: one-on-one meetings, team meetings, town hall meetings, company newsletter, intranet, annual performance reviews, yammer, and on and on. Then ask employees to circle all the items that their own company is indeed doing, and usually the revised list is much longer than their original list. An “aha” moment occurs when they realize, “I guess they are doing a lot more on communication than I realized.”
Third, we need to teach employees how to proactively partner with their bosses. You think communication is lacking? Great, huddle with your supervisor to suggest specific actions that can improve the situation. Don’t think the company is supporting your growth? OK, how can you hold a career path meeting with your supervisor to discuss your goals and what it’s going to take to accomplish them. What individual workers need is the understanding that they actually have an obligation to contact their supervisor if they aren’t satisfied; we can give them tools like model emails and “conversation starters” to help them navigate these conversations.
Employee engagement should have C-level support and management training and evaluation is critical, and we must also recognize what each individual brings to the table and teach them that driving engagement to higher and higher levels is a job for everyone.
Kevin Kruse [link: www.kevinkruse.com] is a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book is Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work. [Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0985056428/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0985056428&linkCode=as2&tag=kevkru-20]