The word “engagement” has become a hot topic in work places all over the country. But what does being “engaged” really mean?
According to Gallup, there are three kinds of associates:
- Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to the company. They drive innovation and move the company forward.
- Not Engaged employees are “checked out”. They’re putting in time, but not energy or passion. They are “sleep-walking” through their day.
- Actively Disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work, they are acting out their unhappiness at work, and working to undermine their engaged coworkers’ accomplishments.
Based on these definitions, where would you rate yourself? Have you ever thought about your own engagement? As a leader, what does your engagement mean for your team? How do you think they’d categorize YOUR actions? What categories do your employees fall in?
At first, these questions can be frightening to consider, because we have to take an honest look internally to determine where we fall.
When I was first asked to consider my own level of engagement, I quickly realized I was in the “Not Engaged” category. I knew I was just getting through the days, and I wasn’t a pleasant leader to be around. I also knew I had more non-engaged and, even worse, actively disengaged employees on my teams. My turnover rate was above 100%, which meant I was bleeding team members and constantly trying to remain fully staffed. It made me even less engaged, because I was constantly picking up the slack. In that moment of self-realization, I made a decision. I decided I wasn’t going to continue going to work the same way anymore. I could continue just going through the motions, or I could be different.
I CHOSE to change my level of engagement.
Today, after I worked for several years to change my level of engagement as a leader for my team, engagement remains my passion. I now have a higher functioning team than ever before. The actively engaged team members either left or changed their behavior. I was able to encourage my not-engaged employees to want to be actively engaged employees by setting the example and changing the way I showed up for my team. I also encouraged ongoing engagement by spending time working on team building during our weekly team meetings.
Engagement is a choice. The definitions suggest that one’s own actions determine their level of engagement. That’s not to say that the work environment and leadership don’t have a role in where people land. At the end of the day, we CHOOSE how we show up. We can still choose our actions despite those around us, and despite what we have control over in the workplace. Too often I would hear an associate threaten disengagement in order to get their way– “Well if I can’t have every weekend off, I’m disengaged,” for example. Engagement does NOT mean you are happy with every single facet of your job. There are ALWAYS going to be things that are out of your control that you may not be completely happy with. Engagement refers to how you approach and handle those things.
After a while, I didn’t have to make myself actively choose to be engaged when I pulled in the parking lot to work each day, because it simply became who I was. It became effortless.
How will you choose to show up for your team?