Employee engagement is reported to be at an all-time low. Employees lament being disempowered and undervalued. Too many feel underappreciated at best and expendable at worst.
On the flip side, leaders are frustrated by employees' lack of ownership. They wonder why people don't take more initiative, why so many just want to be told what to do, and why employees don't seem to take pride in what they do, or what their company does.
The missing link in the employee engagement equation is where ownership meets empowerment. Yet we seem to be caught in one of those "which comes first, the chicken or the egg" conundrums.
What is the essential link that connects empowerment and ownership?
The simple answer is choice.
When you engage in something you make a personal choice to
invest yourself in a purpose or a possibility that matters to you.
It is far too easy to assume that your employees are personally invested in the future of your company or division just because they work there. However, that doesn't happen automatically and it definitely doesn't happen from top-down communication.
Engagement is fundamentally a conversation not a presentation. It is the result of effective and meaningful connections, not efficient processes.
Your role as a leader
It is up to you as a leader to help your employees make the connection between what they have to offer, how they can best serve and, most importantly, why they would want to invest their time and energy in exchange for job satisfaction, not just a paycheck.
They must see the future you are building in a very personal way, and understand how their contribution makes a meaningful difference.
For many years, businesses have tried to motivate engagement through financial incentive. Yet that all too often backfires. If people are too focused on winning the personal financial game they won't discover a personal connection to why their work matters. Money will never buy their hearts in a way that making a difference and being a part of something that matters will.
Unless a job serves a purpose for the individual greater than satisfying their personal needs, you are more likely to get passive and protectionist behavior rather than the kind of engagement that creates a high-performing organization and makes your company a great place to work.
The easiest path to success is through adopting the mindset that most people in your organization likely want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
So if you want people to engage, be empowered and see their future with your organization, you must guide them in making a choice to invest themselves because it matters to them and for them.
Getting employees invested in the company
Here are 5 questions you can ask your team to begin the conversation about investing themselves in your company:
- What do we do that makes you proud to be a part of this organization or company?
- What is the vision for our organization or company in your own words?
- Which one of our goals or strategic objectives matters most to you?
- What difference do you want to make here that you would most want to be known and appreciated for?
- How can we support you to make the difference you most want to make?
You cannot simply issue a vision of the future for your company and expect employees to buy in, no questions asked. That only leads to employees doing what is asked of them so they can say they did their jobs.
It is in the day-to-day conversations that employees have with their leaders that they will forge a connection strong enough to be willing to invest themselves in the future with you,
What conversations are you having with your team that will encourage them to engage with your company?