what is workplace engagement?

“All we achieve and all that we fail to achieve is the direct result of our own thoughts. We are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

It wasn’t very long ago that I was talking to someone who was concerned about the wellbeing of their fellow employees.   A manager was using a vocabulary more suited for the bilges of a Navy ship to motivate those working for him.   Years ago the management model for encouraging people was the carrot and the stick.  For this unenlightened manager the stick was the tool he pulled out of his toolbelt.   The result, employees were “slowing” down being less attentive, and being less quality focused.   Management expects employees to do their best and produce only high quality goods and they will when they are encouraged to participate in the process.   When employees are ridiculed and disempowered they subtly disengage from the work process.   Sure there is movement, there are products ready to be shipped but the craftsmanship may be missing. What is it like at your place of work?   Empowering and engaging?

When a negative spiral starts it can spin out of control.  Each demand met with less engagement.  Employees may fear losing their job, manager’s fear losing the entire business.   As the fear increases workplace productivity decreases, orders diminish and a cycle that is hard to stop spins a bit faster each day … unless a change is made.

Stopping the spin … takes an act of courage and humility.

Seeing the results spin out of control is not a fun thing to watch.   For those running on a very tight budget every loss or poor quality product produced eats into the small margin of profit.   To regain control it requires those who are feeling the greatest impact of poor quality to step back and ask the question,”What are we doing to decrease quality?”, not from the production worker perspective but from the management layer.   What is happening that is causing people to disengage from work?   What is being said?   How is what is being said being interpreted?   How much fear is there?

When an organization shifts into a “victim” level of thinking (everything is everyone else’s fault) there is bound to be problems.    There must be  fundamental shift in thinking from negative to positive.  Anger has to shift to forgiveness.  Victim level thinking needs to move to opportunity, creating win/win outcomes at all levels of the organization.

What kind of organization do you work for?   What kind of messages are being sent to the employees?   What are you empowered to do?   What is your engagement level?

“The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.” Bill Gates

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