Engagement is a term we use for pre-marital commitment, as well as a good movie.
I prefer to use the metaphor of driving a car. When one engages a gear, it is a call to action, a desire to help the vehicle achieve its potential at the appropriate speed, given its current environment. “Drive” is also an alternate term for motivation.
To state the obvious, a car is made to move – otherwise it would not be “mobile” – and thus it “wants” to be in gear, as opposed to “neutral,” “park” or “reverse.” These states have their place, but not in the interest of advancing towards a destination.
Engaging employees – our internal customers, so to speak – requires us first of all to ensure that they desire to be moving forward. Some people want a job, but don’t want to work. They are occupying time, and are happily in “neutral.” Those in “reverse” hanker after better times – “when we” – and have no energy to take them on to greater exploits, either.
Those who can be engaged are those who already want to go somewhere, preferably a great end-point or vision. In the 21st Century world of work, command-and-control is out, and inspiration is in. Educators must engage learners, in order to help them achieve significant results. Managers need to inspire their teams to own the strategy and its execution in their own domain.
There are multiple questions that will need to be answered:
- Do we have a vision that inspires commitment and passion?
- Have we recruited the right people, who naturally want to work in this field?
- Are our customer touch-points benefitting from the best possible staff?
- Are people given the resources and freedom they need to operate effectively?
- Is our reputation being managed actively?
- Are remuneration discussions ongoing, backed by research and non-threatening?
- Do we reward what we actually want, and cater for diverse motivational needs?
- Do we walk our talk when it comes to encouraging employee growth?
- Do we have a robust retention strategy?
It is not a choice anymore, as to whether we engage our employees. It is only a matter of who we choose to engage, before they are no longer our employees.