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Are you engaged?

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

No, I don’t mean in the getting married sense of the word, but rather are you engaged in the activities you are doing, especially in the work environment (but just as much applies personally).

Employee engagement is one of those topics that is always high on the agenda for companies, but often left to the HR function to drive. Often organisations rely on employee engagement surveys to give them an idea of how things are in each department by asking a set of questions that lead to a score. Most of these surveys have some real science behind them, based on years of research and analysis of results, so it’s hard to not consider them a good input on engagement. The argument I’d make though, is that they are only giving a team or department level view, focusing on combined scores and averages. This is done to ensure anonymity, which unfortunately is seen as being required to enable employees to ‘feel safe’ in giving feedback and answering the questions honestly.

In my mind, the problem with this is that all individuality is lost, which at some point you have to understand as everyone is engaged in different ways and for different reasons. Whether this is because of their Personal Values, which I covered a couple of weeks ago, or because of their overall purpose in life and what they are looking to achieve. Understanding these things will help with knowing how best to have them be engaged.

A few years ago I came across The X-Model of Employee Engagement, developed by Blessing White, which I found really interesting and have referenced a lot when talking with leadership teams. There’s a great video on their website that describes it, so won’t go into detail here, but at a high level it talks about the importance of aligning the goals and purpose of the organisation with the goals and purpose of the individual. When the two purposes are being fulfilled, that’s when you get the highest levels of employee engagement.

People who are driven only by the purpose of the organisation and don’t have a sense of personal fulfilment will become disengaged and burnout. Those who focus on achieving their own purpose and not the organisations are ones who are becoming too comfortable and potentially not willing to put the effort in unless it serves them. The rest of the model you can learn more about in their video.

Why do I use this model? It’s not just because of the clear framework it lays out for employee engagement, it’s because of how you can achieve it. If you’re a manager/leader in an organisation, have you taken the time to talk 1-1 with your staff members about their personal goals to truly understand what motivates them. At the same while, have you been clear on what the priorities are for the organisation and how they play a role in achieving those goals.

You are successful the moment you start moving towards a worthwhile goal – Charles Carlson

If you’re an individual in the organisation, are you clear on what your personal purpose and goals are, and have you communicated these to your manager/leader. That way they can understand what drives you and work with you to align that passion and energy to deliver the outcomes for all.

At the end of the day, I could share many different models with you, but they are all grounded in one thing: taking the time to communicate. This is not just a managerial responsibility, but they play a huge part in setting the tone. This week I’ve seen so many references to people not having regular 1-1’s with their managers or when they do they are only focused on work or activities.

So if you are a manager or leader, this is my one ask of you. Make the time to talk to your staff, even if it’s just a ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘How are you feeling about your work?’. There’s plenty of time to talk about the work activities themselves, but what about the investment of time in talking about the staff members and their goals? Do that small thing and you’ll see engagement improving, or at least a path towards it.

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