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Leveraging Engagement

By December 30, 2015March 31st, 2020No Comments

Several years ago, I read a book entitled The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The premise of the book and their resulting organization was to understand that ones engagement flowed from ones energy and therefore, personal energy management, not unlike professional athletes, was the key to engaging with anything.

While it has been a number of years, I think (and I could be wrong about this) I got the following three questions from the website associated with this book, or, I may have read it in the book. (If I could find my book, I would know). So I am going to repeat the questions here and give the credit to Mr. Loehr and Mr. Schwartz. If I am wrong, I am quite sure someone will point out the correct source and I will be happy to modify the reference. What I do know, it is clearly not mine.

Are You Engaged?

For each of these three questions, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best and 1 the worst. At the conclusion of answering these questions, add up your scores. I’ll tell you what your score means after you take the three question test:

  1. How excited are you to get to work in the morning?
  2. How much do you enjoy what you do for its own sake rather than for what it gets you?
  3. How accountable do you hold yourself to a deeply held set of values?

Now, add up your score. You should have a score between 3 (if you rated each question with a 1, or 30, if you rated each question with a 10, or somewhere in between. If you final number is a 2 or 32, you are not as good at mental math as you think you are…get a piece of paper and add the numbers up the old fashion way.

If you scored anything below a 28, you will be categorized as experiencing some level of disengagement with your work and organization. Don’t fret though, only about 30% of the people are able to score a 28-30 on this little test. Research would suggest that about 55% of us are disengaged with what we do and another 15% are actively disengaged, meaning, they are miserable and looking to recruit. A former colleague once referred to these types of folks as FOMs (Fellowship of the Miserable).

Much research has been done on the whole notion of engaging people in their organizations and most of it comes from Gallup.  Over the years though, I have gleaned from a lot of different reading, some important ideas for leaders in working toward the engagement of people within their organizations, regardless of the type of organization they lead. Whether a fortune 500 company or a local elementary school, these ideas can help leverage the engagement of people, renew their energy and improve organizational productivity.

Principles of Engagement

Participants in any organization, when allowed to dwell in the symptoms of disengagement, will spiral into segregation and eradicate hope of long-term organizational success. Many organizations find themselves in a “death cycle” – a vortex of inadequate leadership, insufficient purpose, short-term solutions, reactive resolutions, fear, self-preservation and ultimately, isolation. The principles suggested below are derived from research involving several thousand participants in business and education. They provide a starting point to create measurable tenets that create integrated relationships expanding efficacy and generating desired results.

Unite in a Common Purpose

Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth century British politician and member of Parliament is famous for his quote “The secret to success is constancy of purpose.” Leaders who can bond the actions, intentions and emotions of all stakeholders in a common, meaningful purpose that transcends traditional thinking and practice have the best chance of leveraging engagement, energy and productivity. Constancy requires the universal sharing of ideas, information and resources to support, grow, and sustain the organization.

Banish the Quick Fix

It seems that everything we do these days must have with it an immediate solution. The pressure to perform, sell, meet projections, etc., all come with the price tag of urgency. We want what we need now and cannot wait. However, organizations that exercise patience in strategic study, planning, and execution are far more likely to be successful in the long run. Persistence is the only path to effective and sustainable success. Focus on root causes of problems not the superficial symptoms. There are no band aids for promoting the energy to engage.

Clarify Expectations to Liberate Hope

When people in an organization do not understand their role, how their contributions help the overall end product or have no idea where they fit in the organization, they will disengage. They do so because their work is neither meaningful nor relevant to them. As leaders, we must stive to create organizations that communicate clearly, creatively, and effectively to develop a culture of trust. Eliminate fear so that the faith and hope of all will emerge and thrive. Camaraderie and strong relationships will replace hopelessness and isolation. W. Edwards Deming and the 14 Points of Management discuss the need for purpose, clarity and the driving fear out of organizations.

Nurture Excellence Rather Than Results

The basic premise of focusing on the end product (in education I would argue its testing) and ignoring the process is a death knell for any organization. Focus less on results and more on realizing potential through systems design and process evaluation. Cultivate desire throughout the organization by engaging with continuous improvement frameworks. Desire begets motivation, and motivation nurtures a willingness to achieve personal and organizational objectives.

Celebrate Accomplishment to Sustain Success

Honor the accomplishments and participation of all, which promotes new social capital. Support the recognition of individuals and their contributions to the organization and celebrate the participation of individuals and their contribution to the organization. Encourage individuals to continue their path toward improved results that will sustain the purpose of the organization and solidify lasting, positive change.

Leadership plays a defining role in shaping the culture of an organization and the degree to which people within the organization can engage. Reflect and consider these principles of engagement. Let me know what you think.

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