Over the years, I’ve taken an interest in engagement, partly for obvious professional reasons and partly because, well, I find people interesting. Gallup does a nice job of describing how to measure employee engagement using the Q12 and other tools. I suggest reading First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham. In the book, Buckingham argues that people are most engaged when they understand what people want from them, have the ability to succeed at those expectations, get coaching to do so, and get feedback from someone who cares. Buckingham believes that one’s direct manager accounts for most of what we perceive as the opportunity to engage.
More recently, I have been reading another book, Standing at the Edge by Joan Halifax. Halifax writes, that for one to be engaged, “we must lower ourselves into the waters of the work we want for ourselves and for the world and bring ourselves to the place of fullness, of wholeheartedness in how we serve.” She points out that engagement begins with vulnerability, a willingness to be with your work wholeheartedly.
Together, Buckingham and Halifax point to the truth of all relationships and experiences – engagement occurs when there is both external opportunity and inner receptivity. Most people need a person or situation that invites growth and participation. At the same time, the invitee needs to be willing to accept the invitation. Engagement is not something done to us. There is no workplace that can force a person to be engaged. Instead, there are workplaces that provide an invitation through coaching, tools, feedback, etc. That invitation to learn and grow needs to be voluntarily accepted by a person with curiosity, passion and energy.
I ask for you to consider wholeheartedly accepting the invitation for engagement. How can you rekindle curiosity about your work? Where will you find passion to do your best for your clients? When you lose focus and intensity, how will you rekindle your drive?
A project, a manager and a workplace are nothing more than forums that invite you to be your best. Whether or not we embrace the invitation with our hearts, minds and bodies is our choice alone.
Bill Moseley, CEO GL Solutions