I often write in this space quite critically about management – how studies routinely show that less than one-third of American workers are fully engaged – and suggest steps managers can take to more effectively reach, incent and motivate their troops. I was recently reminded, in reading Employee Engagement for Everyone, by Kevin Kruse, that employee engagement, of course, is not just the job of management. Employees themselves, and the attitudes and mindsets with which they choose to approach each day, are key elements in the engagement equation.
While this is common sense, it also makes good career and business sense, and it’s the aspect of the engagement dynamic that receives consistently less attention. When faced with circumstances that frustrate us (as employees often do), we all have a choice in how we respond: to succumb to (perhaps justified) feelings of negativity and anger, or to try to constructively overcome these inevitable frustrations.
As Kruse succinctly notes: “Your company and your manager have a large role to play when it comes to employee engagement. But half the battle is up to you. You can choose your attitude. You need to be mindful of engagement.”
A productive constructive mindset – What exactly does it mean to be “mindful” of engagement? It means consciously bringing your emotional “A” game and approaching all circumstances – especially difficult ones – with a productive constructive mindset. To help cultivate this, Kruse suggests training your engagement instincts by asking yourself “5 Daily Engagement Questions.”
1. What did I do today to improve communication with my manager and peers?
2. What actions did I take today to learn and grow?
3. Whom did I thank today, and who recognized me?
4. Was I mindful today of our company’s long-term goals?
5. Today, how engaged was I at work?
Many managers may feel: Of course – all employees already should be engaged and doing this. Well, that may be theoretically true but the reality is management is a very challenging job and many managers are untrained and ineffective, and vast numbers of employees emotionally checked out a long time ago.
Were I still in management in the corporate world, I would have given all of my direct reports these five questions, a gentle reminder that the path to employee engagement, like most large and well-traveled streets, runs both ways.
This article first appeared at Forbes.com.
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Victor is the author of The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World (Prentice Hall Press).
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