Partnering, Not Parenting, for Employee Engagement

Partnering, Not Parenting, for Employee Engagement

employee engagement

3 Steps for Increasing Employee Engagement

The following is a guest article by Kevin Kruse, a serial entrepreneur and NY Times BESTSELLING AUTHOR, who has used a relentless focus on Wholehearted Leadership and employee engagement to build and sell several, multimillion dollar technology companies, winning both Inc 500 and Best Place to Work awards along the way.

By now, most executives and HR professionals know that employee engagement is both important and woefully lacking. But despite all the time and money invested into engagement initiatives, many organizations still aren’t moving the needle. Why?

Whenever I ask business leaders, “Whose job is engagement?” I usually hear one of these answers:

  • The HR department owns it
  • We hold our managers accountable

Both good answers, but partial answers.

According to IDG Research 43% of engagement comes from intrinsic motivation, by definition factors that are completely outside the influence of company mangers.

What is missing from many efforts to increase employee engagement, are the individual employees themselves.

Putting the responsibility solely on the manager is a paternalistic view of engagement. What if we created a partnership mindset, instead? Creating a great culture is the result of an ongoing partnership between the individuals and their managers.

With this new model in place, taking lessons from the positive psychology movement, there are three things the individual can do to contribute.


Know What Engages Them

First, employees need to understand their own motivation triggers. Research reveals what drivers are most important for the masses, we are all individuals. I may really crave growth opportunities at my stage of my career, while you might be more interested in recognition for what you are already doing. To support this step I developed an online assessment to help uncover your personal engagement profile. This free assessment will show you the relative importance of each engagement trigger.


Recognize Present Resources

Second, employees to be mindful of all that companies 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.”


Get Employees and Supervisors Talking

Third, employees need permission and tools to proactively partner with their bosses. 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 message 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 needs C-level support and can be championed by HR. Yet 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.

This article is an excerpt from Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work

CC Image by afagen


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