Will you marry me?
Certainly one of the hottest buzz words for 2013 has been engagement. Whether you think it is really just old-fashioned job satisfaction dressed up in some new fall clothing or actually believe its something different there's no denying its pervasiveness.
See? You're reading about it again right here.
In the past I've noted the organization's role in helping create the environment that supports engagement. This is real work with real value.
But if you wanna get, you gotta give. Engagement is not a one-way street.
Are You Engaging?
Oft-overlooked is the question of whether in fact you're engagement material. I mean, do you really do your best to continue the romance after being hired? Over the last few months I've found myself in a chicken and egg type of question with employees at several firms.
The basic rationalization about their [lack of] performance goes something like 'I'm not committed because the environment doesn't engage me.'
I'm not so sure.
“Not committed” in this context includes examples of spending inordinate amounts of work time surfing the web for personal reasons (FB updates anyone!), taking extended breaks, long lunches and early departures and in at least one case, running one's own business while being paid by an employer. Guess whose work was not getting done.
Confused about engagement now? I am.
Professions & Professionalism
If you want to be treated professionally you have to act that way.
A “profession” includes elements such as a body of knowledge, central certifying board and rigorous standards for ethics. To be “professional” means to do the work you were (dare I say it?) engaged to do to the best of your ability. Every day. To be sure, our “best” varies from day to day. But doing our best shouldn't.
We make a promissory deal with our employers that says in exchange for consideration (money, benefits, etc) we will perform our services and protect their interests to the best of our ability. Do we?
Being professional means we take our considered education and expereince and apply it to servicing our employer's interests. Every day. The solution when we no longer see the nexus between our interests and our employer's is to seek a new job. Not bitch about engagement.
That's not professional.
Engagement is crafted and experienced over time. Its not a singular event.
Its also not a spectator sport. Cultures that thrive on high engagement not only apply great energy to keeping employees involved and plugged in, they spend an inordinate amount of energy keeping those who may not fit out.
That's right. Engagement is a participative exercise. If you cannot demonstrate that “you're on the bus” as Ken Kesey would say, don't be surprised if it leaves you standing alone at the station as it pulls away.
Employers can't drive engagement on their own anymore than you can push a piece of string across the table top.
I take engagement and talent seriously: it's what I do for a living. Its not a buzz word, its a culture.
And culture is inclusive.
Are you engaged?