Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

Are you in the 20% of ENGAGED PROFESSIONALS? May 11, 2011

Credits:  What follows is an article that was written by a friend of mine who also happens to be an amazing executive coach with deep expertise in strategy, employee engagement, and energy leadership.  His name is Joel Head, and if you want to follow his work, his website is http://www.headwindsltd.com/.  If you have any inkling that your career could hit a new tragectory but aren’t sure how to switch gears, you need to talk to Joel.  Enjoy this awesome article about workforce engagement.

Oh What a Feeling!

The Gallup organization and Blessing White, among others who measure employee engagement, estimate that fewer than 20% of employees in the U.S. are fully engaged. The remaining 80% are in varying stages of disengaged, from slight disengaged to highly disengaged. The highly disengaged – about 15% of the workforce — are not only disgruntled; they are actively trying to bring harm to their company in some way. The cost of low engagement, Gallup estimates, is a whopping $387 billion in the U.S. alone. The loss represents lower productivity, increased turnover and absenteeism, and increases in quality defects and rework. If your car’s performance mirrored the statistics on employee engagement, it would run well 20% of the time, it would operate sporadically 65% of the time, and 15% of the time it wouldn’t run at all.

Employee engagement is a state of mind – a positive feeling toward the employer, your immediate supervisor, your co-workers and the work you do. Have you ever found yourself so engrossed in something that you lost all track of time? That is what engagement feels like. Scientist and author Csikszentmihalyihad a word for this emotion; he called it “flow”. Flow, he wrote means that you are involved in activities so closely related to your identity that they hardly seem like work. Many business leaders make the mistake of equating employee engagement with satisfaction but it is not the same thing. I could have a job where few demands were placed on me, my co-workers were nice, my schedule was flexible and I got paid a lot of money. That situation might make me feel satisfied, but it wouldn’t likely keep me engaged.

Employee engagement is really a form of psychic or mental energy. When we are engrossed in work that we find meaningful and challenging, it becomes a reward in itself and drives our willingness to put forth the effort required to do great work. A functional magnetic resonance image, or fMRI, scan of your brain during these intense periods, would actually show that your metabolism has caused increased activity in the neurons in your brain. When our mental energy increases, our metabolism works faster and actually speeds up our neural activity. An engaged employee, according to research conducted by Valtera and others, exhibits increased psychic energy which results in greater focus, clarity, persistence and pro-activity.

Employee engagement ultimately is a fixable problem. What’s needed is an environment that supports clarity and transparency, encourages employee autonomy in decision-making and taking needed action, a coaching mentality and a willingness to provide employees with the resources to do their jobs well. The payoff can be worthwhile. In a study by Towers Perrin, companies with high levels of employee engagement engaged a 19% increase in operating profit and a 28% increase in shareholder value over a 12 month period. Over the same period, low engagement firms experienced losses in both areas. You do the math.

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4 Responses to “Are you in the 20% of ENGAGED PROFESSIONALS?”

  1. Ian Kirk Says:

    I feel that the work for is not engaged in their work is simply that its not their work. Can you remember being a kid and asking, “Why do I need to know this?” Of coarse you do because we all asked it almost everyday. See this is the first sign of disengagement. This happens simply because we have no interest in the material. Now lets fast forward to an employee in the work place. They have been told so many times not to ask, “Why am I doing this?” or “Why do I have to do this?” They have stopped shut down and accepted that life is all about doing what you don’t want to do in order to make a living. That my friend is why our economy is broken. Disengagement which starts in our educational system and continues far in to the workforce, teaches complacency.

    Let thing about the corporate environment. Let say you have a rising young star full of life and focused on the mission at hand. Want to know what happens to this poor young sole upon meeting its complacent older teammates? They begin to blend in because its much easier then to stand out. You see in most corporate work environments the employees just work hard enough not to get fired, and the employer pays them just enough not to quit.

    The other issue is management. If someone tells me they are a manager I tell them we can be friends. See I am not interested in knowing managers, because I know I will always be an average of the people I hang around and I defiantly don’t want the management disease to infect my mindset. You maybe asking yourself way be so brash. Well I will tell you that there is a big difference between managers and leaders. A manager tells people what to do, however a leader shows people want to do everyday moment by moment. You want to know why so many of the workforce is not engaged in what they are doing? Very simple, they feel managed not lead. They don’t have a since of ownership, and they feel disconnected to the mission statement or don’t even know what that statement is at all. If you want a wake up call go around to each person in your organization and ask them, “What is our mission statement?” If you don’t get one consistent answer, there’s the problem.

    Did you know that if you ask the average employee what would make them happier at work, the answer is not more money. The majority of employees and people in general want to belong to something bigger then themselves. They want to feel like they are contributing to something. This is the main difference I see in many organizations. Corporate management style aways focuses on strategy and tactics. Where as organizational leadership style aways focuses on a culture of empowerment.

    • Ian Kirk Says:

      Opps bunch of typos in this one

      • laurajuarez Says:

        No worries! I love your comments Ian. I totally agree. Creating real meaning – not just the meaning we want our teams to discover but meaning that resonates deeply in their core – is an illusive but worthy priority for leaders. We’re fighting against the grain, because you’re right, our culture which extends well beyond the four walls of the workplace is becoming more and more disenfranchised / disengaged. Thanks for your insight, Ian.

  2. Ian Kirk Says:

    I feel that the work force is not engaged in their work is simply that its not their work. Can you remember being a kid and asking, “Why do I need to know this?” Of coarse you do because we all asked it almost everyday. See this is the first sign of disengagement. This happens simply because we have no interest in the material. Now lets fast forward to an employee in the work place. They have been told so many times not to ask, “Why am I doing this?” or “Why do I have to do this?” They have stopped asking, shut down, and accepted that life is all about doing what you don’t want to do in order to make a living. That my friends is why our economy is broken. Disengagement which starts in our educational system and continues far in to the workforce, teaches complacency, mediocrity, and unproductive mentalities.

    Lets think about the corporate environment. Let say you have a rising young star full of life and focused on the mission at hand. Want to know what happens to this poor young sole upon meeting its complacent older teammates? They begin to blend in because its much easier then to stand out. You see in most corporate work environments the employees just work hard enough not to get fired, and the employer pays them just enough not to quit. What a beautiful match made in heaven…….

    The other issue is management. If someone tells me they are a manager I tell them we can’t be friends. See I am not interested in knowing managers, because I know I will always be an average of the people I hang around and I defiantly don’t want the management disease to infect my mindset. You maybe asking yourself why be so brash. Well I will tell you that there is a big difference between managers and leaders. A manager tells people what to do, however a leader shows people want to do everyday, moment by moment. You want to know why so many talented people in the workforce are not engaged in what they are doing? Very simple, they feel managed not lead. They don’t have a since of ownership, and they feel disconnected to the mission statement or don’t even know what that statement is at all. If you want a wake up call go around to each person in your organization and ask them, “What is our mission statement?” If you don’t get one consistent answer, there’s the problem.

    Did you know that if you ask the average employee what would make them happier at work, the answer is not more money. The majority of employees want to belong to something bigger then themselves. They want to feel like they are contributing to something. This is the main difference I see in many organizations. Corporate management style aways focuses on strategy, tactics, evaluations, fear, and dis-empowerment. Where as organizational leadership style aways focuses on developing a culture of self-development and empowerment.


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