The Missing Link To Fostering Employee Engagement

It seems every couple of months there’s a new study demonstrating how the majority of employees are either neutrally or negatively engaged at work.  While these studies don’t necessarily reflect a lack of interest by employers to address employee engagement, they are a continual reminder of how many of today’s organizations don’t seem to have a understanding of what their employees need to feel empowered in their roles.

Our sense of engagement in what we do is derived both from our level of competence – of how capable we feel in performing this role and function – and also from being able to know that what we do will make a difference beyond the short-term; that we can derive a sense of purpose and meaning because of what it helps us to create or contribute to in the future.

Therein lies the challenge for most organizations and their leaders.  Certainly, there’s much focus on employee training as a means of encouraging engagement and rightly so, as this does help to build on our level of competence and consequently our ability to succeed in our efforts.  What we’re missing from this equation, though, is answering the question of why these efforts matter beyond the short-term, beyond those quarterly reports.

 

Many of today’s organizations don’t seem to have a understanding of what their employees need to feel empowered in their roles

 

In other words, what kind of future are we trying to create or build through our shared efforts?  Where do we hope or plan to end up as a result of the efforts we’re committing to push through today?

Research has proven time and again how we are driven over the long term not by prestige and money, but by those tasks which allow us to derive some sense of meaningful purpose in what we do.  That meaning can’t be created over the span of a week, a month or even a year.  Rather, it’s something that we take hold of in our near future; a goal or vision that we strive to attain because we feel confident in our collective abilities to reach it.

Of course, these goals can’t be easy; they have to challenge us and stretch our perception of what we’re capable of to keep us engaged and involved in the process.  This is why leaders need to consistently communicate and show that they not only want their team to succeed in their efforts, but that they believe in their collective potential.

 

We are driven over the long term not by prestige and money, but by those tasks which allow us to derive some sense of meaningful purpose in what we do

 

It’s when we combine these elements of developing our competence and connecting it with where we want to be in the future that leaders can create not just an engaged workforce, but an environment where everyone can thrive and grow.

Connect Deeper with Tanveer


Tanveer Naseer is the Principal and Founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with managers and executives to help them develop leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development, while ensuring they remain focused on what creates a fulfilling sense of purpose in what they do..   You can read more of his writings on leadership and workplace interactions on his award-winning blog at TanveerNaseer.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter – @TanveerNaseer

 

Photo by  Louise Jones

Tanveer Naseer is an award-winning and internationally-acclaimed leadership writer and speaker. He is also the Principal and Founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with managers and executives to help them develop leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development, while ensuring they remain focused on what creates a fulfilling sense of purpose in what they do.

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  • Ellen Weber

    Tanveer, I am jolted awake by your key question here – “What kind of future are we trying to create or build through our shared efforts?”

    You are so right in your notion that: “It’s when we combine these elements of developing our competence and connecting it with where we want to be in the future that leaders can create not just an engaged workforce, but an environment where everyone can thrive and grow.”

    This critical concept (stated with the wonder and challenge you did here) could be the opening of a best seller! If you decide to write it – I’ll be first in line to buy my copy. You have me thinking in a new way about engaging others in sustainable ways for the benefit of all concerned!

    Bravo! Count me in! Stay blessed, Ellen

  • Based on my own experience as an executive creating more than one fully engaged workforce, I can’t agree.

    What motivates us and causes us to be fully engaged is being heard, being respected, and having competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The actions leaders must do to achieve these results are easy to learn and easy to execute. These actions merely consist of meeting management’s responsibility to properly support their employees,

  • Thank you for such a moving post Tanveer and I totally agree with Ellen.

    I believe employees are the key asset any company has and failure to engage properly is the root cause for many unsuccessful projects.
    As you have stated rightly, time after time, organizations fail to understand the real motivational factors. While trying to address some of them in trainings, the interaction on everyday basis in the team negates all acquired advantages during the trainings due to lack of personal competences on managerial front. It is managers sole prerogative to engage and build communication channels according to team’s needs.

    Kind regards,
    Anya

    http://anyaworksmart.com/

  • Thank you for the insightful post, Tanveer! I especially like what you wrote about how people are ultimately more motivated by their sense of meaning and purpose than by material rewards and prestige. I think that this is why many of the most successful employee engagement programs are built around a shared cause–whether it’s giving back to the community or increasing environmental sustainability. Most successful of all are often the initiatives that not only do this, but also recognize employees’ contributions by encouraging them to share their own ideas and stories. It’s all about sharing values and being valued.

    Best wishes,

    Valerie

  • Tanveer, Once again, I just love where you come from! I think it comes down to a simple sentence. People want to leverage their strengths toward making a valued impact on something they believe is important. They want to be inspired, empowered AND valued for their contribution. If a business is struggling with low engagement, something in the culture is not supporting one or more of these elements. Unfortunately most businesses approach the issue by attempting to address symptoms via employee survey results, rather than using that information to better understand the overall system and how well it is supporting their employee’s basic human needs. Thanks so much for so eloquently keeping the focus on this important topic!
    Best- Lisa

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