We say the words.  We create the power point decks.  We even grant ill-begotten awards to [ostensibly] motivate our teams.  (An iPod for a deaf employee, you must be joking?)  But without answering 3 simple questions, your company has little hope of having the kind of engaged employees who make a material difference (over $350B each year by some estimates) to company value:

  1. Why am I Here? – Map an employee’s role to the greater “cause”.  How does an employee make a difference?
  2. Can I Make an Impact? – We may know why we are performing a job and how that job impacts the bottom line of the company.  But if employees see no possible way to succeed, they give up.  If our teams can’t answer “so what?” we end up with educated but ineffectual employees.
  3. WIIFM? – What’s in it for me?  Employees appreciate rewards, but be careful.  For some the reward is accomplishing the task while for others the reward may come in more tangible forms.  Regardless, mismatching the reward with an employee’s needs breeds dissatisfaction and disengagement.

It shouldn’t be “news” that companies with engaged employees outperform those staffed by the “walking wounded”.  Given the preponderance of evidence (read this article on employee engagement or this Wharton article for more background) it’s clear we have a long way to go.

The pivot point is that even though engagement is a shared responsibility of employees and companies, it starts with us!

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