Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ~ Albert Einstein
What does it require to get started with employee engagement? I believe the answer is surprising: stopping. Before you launch a new engagement survey, embark on a new program or begin to add a new initiative - STOP.
In fact, I encourage you to come to a double stop before beginning.
Stop 1: Ask why
Your first stop is to pause and determine why you are starting in the first place.
- What do you want the survey to achieve?
- Is the new program the best way to move forward?
- Have you engaged people in helping to create the new initiative?
Stop and ask yourself thoughtful questions to ensure that you are headed in the right direction with the right engagement vehicle. For example, why would you want everyone on the bus when some people work better as their own drivers of engagement?
Stop 2: Consider paths to success
The second stop before beginning is to consider what needs to stop for engagement to be successful.
- Can you simply stop doing the annual or bi-annual survey?
- Can you stop employee cynicism or skepticism surrounding anything related to engagement?
- Can you stop using jargon?
- Can you stop asking managers to do so much that they get overwhelmed and end up only delivering on so little?
- Can you stop seeing employee engagement as additive - another program, training initiative, or activity.
The key question is: What can we stop doing that can increase our engagement?
When you don't stop
The failure to stop can cause what I have previously termed iatrogenic disengagement. Iatrogenic disengagement is the disengagement inadvertently created through our attempts to measure or increase employee engagement. I borrowed the term from medicine where iatrogenic illness is the illnesses that develop as you seek the cure. I wrote about twenty-three sources of iatrogenic disengagement. Read the brief eBook here. Ensure you stop doing anything that may precipitate iatrogenic disengagement.
The benefits of stopping
Sharon Arad from Cargill shared an excellent organizational example of stopping. She detailed how Cargill stopped an ineffective performance appraisal process that was disengaging and moved to daily performance conversations. The new approach also ceased the time gaps between performance and feedback. Not only did daily performance conversations stop poor performance management methods the daily conversational method increased engagement.
Marshall Goldsmith, Kevin Sheridan, Tim Clark and others are strong advocates of stopping a primary focus on what organizations can and should do to increase employee engagement. They shifted focus and encouraged a better examination and assistance with the employee's personal responsibility for their own engagement.
The daily practice of employee engagement
Stop viewing employee engagement as a program and make it a practice. I encourage you to make stopping a daily occurrence. Don't wait until the end of your career or a major project to reflect upon your work. I believe investing time in multiple 90 seconds stops during the day can be a powerful trigger to build engagement. Stop to take a few mindful breathes and assess your level of engagement right now and what you can do right now to increase or enhance engagement for yourself or others at work.
Stop now to answer these two questions before you transition to your next task:
- What can we or I stop doing at work that will create more engagement for the benefit of all?
- How can I ensure that I stop for 90 seconds three or four times a day to be more mindful of my work and more attuned to my fluctuating levels of engagement?
All the best as you plan a few "stops" on your way to increased engagement.