Leaders, Employee Engagement is Uniquely Personal

There is nothing spooky in Kate’s message on engagement. What we like about Kate’s post is the leadership call to action: get over any discomfort in engaging staff. It

You most likely have read the stats on how employee engagement increases talent retention. I won’t quote them. You probably have read the effects of employee engagement on productivity. I won’t restate them.

What I will underscore is that employee engagement is uniquely personal. It is that person-to-person hook that kick starts and amplifies success. If you have designed a grand plan at the highest level to engage employees, it will work when you make it personal — not faceless and generic.

Just as they say all politics is local, all engagement is personal.

Want my attention? Talk about what I bring to the table. Want my extra effort? Discuss what unique talents I have that you as leader think are enviable! Want me to actively engage on a team with a very difficult assignment? Outline how you respect each of those who endure the steep hills and slippery slopes of that project road.

Generic statements don’t engage. Personal discussions do. Consider this analogy. Local newspapers for years have featured stories about local people instead of filling the entire paper with international and national news. Why? It’s not just to keep everyone up to date on local happenings. They do it because they will engage more local citizens to buy the paper and to read about their families and their neighbors. Local and personal engages.

What Must Leaders Change to Personally Engage?

  • Replace the old adage “There is no I in team” with “Contribute your unique talents to propel team success.” It is far more engaging for employees to hear that their personal talents are needed than to be told they are a cog in a wheel.
  • Honor team members with well-earned individual praise as you point out how each contributed to the team success. Diversity is personal just like engagement. Over the years leaders neutralized recognition of diverse individual talents to prevent the me-itis syndrome of individual team members.

However, this disengages many who are inspired to maximum commitment by recognition of who they are and how that contributes to success. Diverse individual talents are the essence of the hiring investment along with fit to organizational culture. Coach these individual talents into a unity of team success vs. neutralizing all individual identity into uniformity.

Guide each employee to learn from each others’ strengths. In this they learn how to contribute their personal bests with generous restraint for team success.

Generic statements don’t engage. Personal discussions do.

  • Upgrade the mindset of professional distance to the practice of personal engagement. Great leaders connect and communicate to engage. They don’t isolate themselves and justify it under the guise of professionalism. They overcome personal discomfort they have with informality to personally engage for winning results.


A Winning First Step

  1. Make a list of each employee that reports to you and note two of their strengths and one thing that makes them unique. Leave one space blank for something you will discover about them. This exercise initiates the practice of personal engagement.
  2. Use the information in everyday conversation to engage the employees. It’s not about constant praise; it’s about recognizing their personhood to ignite commitment in real time mode instead of at performance review time. Performance reviews don’t engage. Daily connections do.
  3. To help prime your thoughts, here are 25 possible talents to recognize in your employees.


Connect with Kate

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, is Founder & President of CAS, Inc. now in its 23rd year. Kate is a former techie turned people skills guru with Masters in Organizational Psychology. Leaders in diverse industries have tapped Kate to train thousands of corporate employees in high performance teamwork, employee engagement, the ultimate customer service skills, and adapting to change. Kate teaches positive interactions for business success and is known for her engaging sessions and coaching leaders on inspiring employees. Her clients include Pfizer, ThomsonReuters, Baker Hughes, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, IBM, John Deere, SAS Institute, and National Institutes of Health to name just a few. You can see a preview of Kate’s latest DVD at http://katenasser.com/training-dvds/. Email Kate at info@katenasser for more great ideas discussed in this post.


Photo courtesy of  k-ee-ran

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, inspires leaders and teams in large & mid-size corporations to the heights of service and performance. Her special focus for 20+ years in keynotes, workshops, and consulting has been turning interaction obstacles into supreme success. Kate's latest DVD -- Customer Service USA: Regional Differences That Make a Difference -- shows you how to have your customer's back! Kate invites you to join the people skills chat on Twitter (#peopleskills) every Sunday 10am ET/3pm GMT and click on the icons above to connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn. Kate has a B.S. in Mathematics and a Masters in Org. Psychology.

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    Excellent post Kate. Just saw it this morning. Love it. We can make it as simple and general as CARE, but we need to make it personal. Everyone is different and wants leaders to CARE about them and what they bring to the table.

    Thanks again.


  • http://www.blessingwhite.com MA Masarech

    Yes, our research at BlessingWhite consistently shows that engagement is individualized. One of our most common recommendations is “coach the individual not the demographic.” Too many leaders assume there is a magic formula for engaging Gen Y employees or technical talent. Engagement reflects a personal equation. That is what makes it so hard to achieve.

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  • Kate Nasser

    Mary Ann, Excellent mantra “coach the individual not the demographic”. It is truly one to one. Many thanks for contributing to this discussion.

  • Kate Nasser

    Dear Al,
    The human spirit is uplifted by connection and care — beyond the words. So pleased you found this post helpful.

    My gratitude for your time and your comment.

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