Engagement and being awesome on your job
I don’t know the magic formulas that consulting firms use to define ‘disengagement’. Companies like Deloitte and Gallup tell us that 70% of employees are not engaged, but I don’t know whether we need to take it with a grain of salt. I can tell you that many, many of my friends would fail the test of engagement. So what is the test of engagement?
Number one, engagement means you engage your body. So that’s easy – that means you show up. You get your hands to work and you say, ‘How do you want me to use these?’ And the idea is, ‘I don’t really care. You might want me to weld something, you might want me to fix something else, but if you pay the most money, I’ll take the job.’ And it’s kind of a transactional way of thinking of work.
And the second approach – you can engage your brain, your mind. And this approach says, ‘Don’t tell me exactly what to do. Tell me what you want accomplished. And if you – my supervisor, my leader, my boss – you can tell me what you want accomplished, and then let me figure it out. Let me use my brain, let me use my skills, let me create something.’ That’s a second level of engagement, and I think that it’s a little bit more rare. It’s not always the employee’s fault. One of the big ‘a-ha’s’ in my book, Alive at Work, is that a lot of times leaders say they want innovation and creativity, but what they really want is innovation and creativity that works. That pays off. But when you innovate and it doesn’t go as you expected – and maybe it doesn’t actually work as planned – then you get punished. If you get punished enough times being creative, you’ll stop being creative and you’ll just do what they say.
So that’s hands, that’s head. And then the third one is heart – this idea that some of us actually care about what we do, This is the notion of bringing your emotions to work and sort of letting the work define you…most of the time that we’re awake we’re going to be working. But for many, work is just a thing you do to get money; it’s not a thing that you really care about. And these individuals would jump to another job as soon as possible. They’ll leave one company to go to another one for 8% more money. That would imply that they weren’t very engaged in their hearts.
I spoke about increasing work engagement with Pete Mockaitis on his Top 10 podcast How to be Awesome at Your Job.