Editor at COLL
Career is important to most people because it is the financial road that holds the possibility of more comforts, luxury, pleasure and a finer lifestyle. Even if some are attached to career for intellectual pursuit or positive results, the fact remains that there is attachment to learning, growing, developing and changing. Each of us has a different motivation that keeps us occupied in our jobs. But the most unfortunate are those who hate what they do, wish they were someplace else, don’t like the work culture, don’t gel with colleagues and can’t wait to go home each day. The last 10 years saw a big focus on the word “Engagement”.
Engagement means : the complete involvement, interest and attachment to what one does as a job. It is through this solidarity that a loyalty towards the organisation is built. Organisations thus have to work hard on two aspects – Meaningful jobs and Inspiring environment. The first is more a methodical activity of following analytics and processes but the later is a challenge for many companies. Building an environment is abstract and subjective. Besides it is highly people dependent.
Leaders and their role in org Climate: Culture building mainly depends on the people at the Top. So to have an inspiring environment an organisation needs exemplary leaders. A company that has a splattering of few good leaders and many dead weight will not move to create the right ambience for others. Yet in complete contradiction to that is the other fact that Environment is at times built by the sheer energy, passion and ethical fabric of a SINGLE dynamic leader. She/He however needs to be at a place of complete power and governance to be able to thrust such radical change. A brilliant new culture sets in and the new climate begins. We need to understand that the truth about climate and culture – it is highly organic. Which means it happens with time, with the repetition of right choices, great decisions, display of fairness, attachment to integrity, love for good talent, great practices and most importantly CONSISTENCY till it becomes “The way”.
The big mistake : Leaders who think of engagement as something that can be “managed”start on the wrong foot which is why they can design the fanciest plans, spend ginormous sums, run interventions and still see people disgruntled, leaving the company or giving negative reviews. Hard as it is to look into the mirror – it is a reflection of Leadership quality in the pool. Most companies don’t have the courage needed to be tough in assessing their existing Leadership pool and sift the wheat from the chaff. The image of the company, the message such exits will throw in the market and other such implications prevent management from doing the RIGHT thing. Employee engagement is virtually impossible without a homogeneous set of correct values at the top.
So the Band -Aid : When there is lack of courage to fix the root cause of the climate and culture issues the outcomes are observed in engagement of employees. The employee complaints, grievances, lack of trust in leadership and sense of vulnerability will grow. At times a person may feel disenageged because they are unhappy in what they “found” as an available job – they wanted something else. Force fitting only leads to detachment we all know. At times employees won’t reveal true intentions or feelings. Open communication requires prodding. And because there is no real way to go fix the ROOT cause most orgs manage engagement at the surface or eliminate the disengaged ! In such an environment then it becomes cardinal sin to express views, feelings or experience. The slave culture sets in.
Non Sustainable organisation decisions : sustainable organisations are not made of surface engagement activities and drives. No company can endure poorly engaged Talent beyond a point. In a bid to prevent further damage some organisations make the mistake of assuming engagement is about “keeping the employee busy”. They design job rotations, career paths, a dozen HR processes, rewards and recognition, employee forums and social events etc which keeps throwing stuff back to back – but at a very unimpressed employee. An employee whose sentiments have not changed at all – who only got busier and hates it even more than before.
Engagement is the character of the MIND : Someone who loves their own competencies, abilities, skills, challenge to test them, learn new things is perennially motivated. This kind of an individual has started an inward journey. There is a greater tendency they would have started work on their behaviours, value inventory. Most of this happens because of the innate desire to be a better version of themselves from last year.
The overlap that influences energy of the mind : Engagement is how you “feel” and “think” about work and your life which is why it is about ENERGY. If your life is going through a rough patch there should be no surprise if you are not at your most engaged at work either. The mind is in the ownership of you – you who is disturbed. Very few people hold the capacity to separate the mind at work from the mind at personal Life.
Different Engagement logic for different people : All of us are going to be CEO’s even if we came out of the world’s best universities. There is only so much room at the top and a mature person acknowledges that reality. If they are one’s who cannot wait their turn to reach the chair that offers INDEPENDENCE – there will be restlessness. But are they any less engaged today? No. Not for a day ! Engagement is the active delivery of anything and everything they are involved it – all things they do, get’s the best of them. If they are sound in knowledge, have the skills required and honed personal values- usually such talent grow the confidence to turn entrepreneurs and not wait for long. If such a dream is absent, then the engaged talent learns to love what they do each day.
Another characteristic of engaged people is that excuses and grumbles are not their style. They are issue fixers, solution agents – who may critique but will also be the ones to fix things. Engagement has many doors. Some find it in doing the best they can, being part of a mission or goal, finding problems, doing the right things, growing as individuals, being contributors, being champions, being risk takers, being creative ….engagement has so many routes that it is hard to “manage” it. At an individual level it depends on the person’s aspirations and maturity. At an organisation level it depends on the Leaders qualities.