Engagement……..what a word!
Sounds appealing, isn’t it? It associates our thoughts with concepts such as engaging, interacting, relations, and any social-oriented ideas. Interestingly, for those who may not know, engagement is also associated with initiation of a battle. It is also popularly related with a pre-marriage state of relationship.
So, what is the meaning of this word, actually?
In a recently national conference I attended, the opening panel session was about employee engagement. The idea the speakers shared was about how to make employees really engage with the business process in active way, instead of being operators based on instruction. This can be achieved through well-crafted human capital management process. Obviously, this is not only about recruitment, placement, and employee trainings. It’s way beyond that. The idea of employee engagement is about building people as the fittest talents for the organization, not just working people.
Now let’s skip the theoretical part. Let’s get grounded with this question: How this sweet idea is actually implemented?
Honestly, this is a very obscure proposition to elaborate. How does it look like to be engaged? I can’t answer that for you, well, not as precise as I think it should be. I know how it feels to engage and to be engaged. I feel the connection, not just in cognitive way, such as understanding. I believe engagement is about sensing the connection, sharing the same values, involving with people whom we connect with, and interact with them along the way.
That’s my take of engagement. Yours may have been different, and I think that’s all about this idea. Everyone has his or her own definition, because one experienced engagement differently to others.
What about employee engagement? Theoretically speaking, this is a new idea carrying old substance. We have affective commitment, organizational citizenship behavior, and other frames used to explore one psychological situation: How people passionately invest themselves in their work, their organization and the people they work with.
We’ve seen examples of people who ultimately engage with their work from time to time. From a very committed and devoted janitor we met, to a very passionate and heroic historical figure like Gandhi. We’ve seen them in history, and we also learned how this situation is, in fact, rare.
So, is it true that employees can really engage that well? Don’t they work for the sake of their own welfare? Don’t we? Supposedly we are very passionate with our work, would that also means we are passionate with the organization or company we work at? I don’t think so. Loving the type of the job is not the same with loving the company. You might love to be a software engineer, but it doesn’t mean you love the company you are working in.
We may love our work for ourselves. We may engage with our work, and just that. Nothing more. Do we bother to engage more than our working sphere? Honestly, I doubt it.
The world we live in today is swamped by communication networks. We live in a time where internet connects us, phones connect us, PCs connect us, and many other ways. Five decades ago, we don’t always be able to get the information we were seeking for. Now, we might get information we don’t want to know. Take a look at the internet. Some of us may think we are facing too much news, too many social media, too many gossips and too many types of information. Why?
Because we live in a world with intense and widespread connections. Our problem today is not lacking of connections, but overwhelming connections.
But, with all those connections, do we really engage? Supposedly we do, how often we really engage? Perhaps, we have too much to connect with, therefore we are too numb to really engage.
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8 thoughts on “Employee engagement, as we may know it….. or we may not….”
That’s the paradox James, namely the advancement of communication, transportation, and information technology decrease the quality of our engagement, because its so superficial, full of objective interest, and almost without genuine human connection. It makes us just a bit of data and a piece of commodity. Nothing more!
About the engagement in workplace, I think either you have it, or not. Its like falling in love. There is no standard procedures of rules to make people falling in love. It just happens. We can work in perfect places in the area of our expertise, still there is something missing, if you don’t have the right chemistry. What do you think?
Yes, chemistry is the right word to wrap it! You can sense it, but it’s not easy to describe it. Stakeholder is about giving space to let that chemistry emerges from time to time. Otherwise, it’s just another ‘theme-park’ in the workplace 🙂
Generally, employee work as individual or teamwork based on job descriptions, SOP, and policies. But we must remember one thing that influence them and their work.The thing is Corporate Culture. I will define the corporate culture here as how people things around here. Related to OD, this is very important because of it’s very influence corporate performance. That’s why most of corporate leaders want to change their corporate culture to achieve more higher revenue and productivity. Maybe I can say that performance is determinant key and a valid reason to change the corporate culture besides another reasons like:
1. Existing culture is a serious constraint to performance improvement and sustainable growth.
2. Failure of a company basically is failure of it’s culture.
3. Dysfunctional culture that caused by lacks of discipline, communications disconnect, etc
For employees, corporate culture is very influence them because they must adapt the culture as a part of their work, and of course if they can’t adapt the culture, or refuse to adapt, they will inconvenience with their work environment. This condition will trigger the results of their work are below standard. Thinking about how people passionately invest themselves in their work, their organization and the people they work with, the corporate leaders should transform the business culture based on fundamental solution that needed to make a convenience work environmental for their employee.
I agree, Glenn! It’s about culture. A single employee engagement program will do no good, without a transformation in the working culture.
And yes, culture defines organizational performance. In fact, it’s better if you have imperfect SOPs and job desc, but you have a very effective and constructive culture, because you will still get good performance. On the other way, you have all the documents, but people do not actually run the system that way; then you may not have a constructive and effective culture, and you won’t get good performance.
So, it’s about how people work, and that’s the fundamental reason of employee engagement 🙂
Refer to my comment & your reply above, I want to add leadership characters for corporate leaders to transform their corporate culture. Why characters? as you know, when a corporate wants to transform their business culture, the role of a leader is very influencing the transformation process. if a leader doesn’t have a good leadership characters, the transformation will failed or I can say back to square one. otherwise, if a leader has a great leadership characters, the transformation process will success and take the corporate to a higher level performance.In my opinion, a leader should have four basic characters that listed below:
1. Integrity = unified word and action or performance. a great leader must have integrity and use it with ethical and consistent
2. Maturity = balance between courage and consideration, freedom or Independence and responsibility.
3. Trustworthy. a trusted leader will combine commendable character with high technical competency to lead organization with all responsibilities.
4. Excellencies, a character which sets out the best work quality and continually strive for excellence. this will motivate the employees to follow their leader, and will transform their work culture.
I think i can describe four basic characters only for now. maybe you can add more?
Thanks, Glenn! Those are great characters, and I’m fully agree with all of them.
I however, would like to add couple notes. First of all, the problem with these characters are that they are epitomic. They are ideals of what a great leader should be. Thus, they are not easy things to attain. Second, these characters are built up through experiences. Not everyone able to survive and learning from their own experiences to live up to these characters. Many people got lost in their career, and instead of developing these characters, constraints and pressures made them less constructive 🙂
So, I believe that the ‘know-how’ of the process to build these characters is what really matters.
Yes You right James. actually, I got these knowledge from my uncle, Mr. Harianto Mangkusasono, a business practitioner and trainer. His experiences as Commissioner at Metrodata Group, Bentoel and many national company scale enable him to built these strong leadership characters. when I come to his house, he taught me about these leadership characters and how to build a good culture in my department, since I must take all responsibilies as IT Dept head. so, in my post above, I try to share what i’ve got with you, and maybe I can get more advice from you ^_^’ ……. Actually, it’s not easy for me to become a leader, but i believe, I can lead my department better if I can discuss about leadership and OD with experienced people like you and my uncle… Thanks for the note, I’m very appreciate them.
Within my extremely limited knowledge about your work and the department you are responsible for leading, I only have few humble suggestions: Listen, observe, and practice 🙂
There are so much we can learn from subtle signs around us. Those signs will guide us what are the best character to develop.