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5 Principles to Create Employee Engagement

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5 Principles to Create Employee Engagement

Showing Up for Work Through Life’s Ups and Downs
Mike  Robbins
Mike Robbins More by this author
May 02, 2018 at 03:15 PM

In my book Bring Your Whole Self to Work, I lay out 5 principles to increase authentic individual and group engagement in the workplace. For us to truly succeed, especially in today’s business world, we must be willing to bring our whole selves to the work that we do. And for the teams and organizations that we’re a part of to thrive, it’s also essential to create an environment where people feel safe enough to bring all of who they are to work. 

Even inside the most structured and traditional companies, the lines between our personal and professional lives have blurred more than ever in recent years. Bringing our whole selves to work means showing up authentically, leading with humility, and remembering that we’re all vulnerable, imperfect human beings doing the best we can.  It’s also about having the courage to take risks, speak up, ask for help, connect with others in a genuine way, and allow ourselves to be truly seen.

It’s not always easy for us to show up this way, especially at work. And it takes commitment, intention, and courage for leaders and organizations to create environments that are conducive to this type of authenticity and humanity.

When employees are disengaged, employers feel the stress of poor results and high turnover. A study conducted by the human capital management company ADP estimates the real monetary cost is at $2,246 per disengaged employee per year. The total economic impact of employee disengagement in the U.S. easily runs into billions of dollars each year—by one estimate, over $400 billion.

As I’ve seen and learned through my research and experience, one of the most important aspects of being engaged, fulfilled, and successful in our work is the ability to be ourselves. Organizations that have environments where people are more likely to engage, collaborate, and perform, do what they can to encourage people to fully show up and be all of who they are at work.

After agreeing to write a book, the circumstances of my life would test my own ability to bring my whole self to my own work. With almost a year in remission, my sister had been re-diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in the fall of 2014. Lori’s diagnosis was shocking and scary—to her, to me, and to all of us around her. She went back into treatment and it seemed to be going well at first, but by the middle of 2015 things took a turn for the worse.

The final days and weeks of her life took me by surprise and knocked me off my feet. I was challenged by how to navigate all of this and still do my work. My life and schedule weren’t set up for me to take time off to grieve, process everything, and take care of all that needed to be handled.  When I did feel compelled to speak about Lori and my loss, I was amazed by the response—so many people had their own grief stories to share.

Through one of the greatest losses of my life, I had to go even deeper within myself and practice how to bring all of me to work in a new way. Life is short and uncertain, and that it’s a waste of time for me—for any of us—to worry about doing or saying the wrong thing, being “too much” for people to handle, or not having everything figured out. We’re all just doing our best, given the resources we have and the circumstances we’re facing.

Hiding who we are and what we’re going through doesn’t serve us or the people we work with, and in many cases it isn’t even possible. We’re all dealing with being human.

Many of the people I’ve interviewed have been touched by loss, like me, and have also been forced to make changes, take risks, and recover from failure. I’m constantly amazed, although no longer surprised, to learn that even people who seem on the surface to “have it all together” still deal with some of the same self-doubt, fear, and insecurity that the rest of us do.

What’s really exciting is that, over the past decade or two, many really smart people—in academia, science, and business—have become more interested in these important topics, which some people dismiss as “soft skills.” But as we all know, soft skills are hard. As leadership expert Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” These “soft” things drive the success (or failure) of our careers and of most businesses, and science and research are now backing this up in many ways.

A Harris Interactive study conducted for Deloitte found the following to be true:

• 83 percent of executives and 84 percent of employees rank having engaged and motivated people as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success.

• There is a correlation between employees who say they are “happy at work” and feel “valued by their company” and those who say their organization has a clearly articulated and lived culture.

These statistics and so many others point to the fact that the ability (or inability) for us and others to bring our whole selves to and engage in our work has a huge impact on our success, well-being, and fulfillment (or lack thereof). The willingness of leaders and organizations to create the conditions for trust, connection, and a positive culture make a significant difference in the loyalty and productiveness of their people.

From stories of my own life, research, and professionals across various professional environments, I’ve learned ideas, techniques, and the best practices to include:

  1. Be Authentic. The foundation of bringing our whole selves to work is authenticity, which is about showing up honestly, without self-righteousness, and with vulnerability. It’s essential for trust, growth, and connection.
  2. Utilize the Power of Appreciation. Bringing our whole selves to work is about being willing to be seen, and also about seeing and empowering the people around us, which is what appreciation provides.
  3. Focus on Emotional Intelligence. Our emotional intelligence (EQ) is often more important than our skills, IQ, and experience. EQ is both about us (self-awareness and self-management) and about how we relate to others (social awareness and relationship management).
  4. Embrace a Growth Mindset. Growth mindset is a way of approaching our work and our life with an understanding that we can improve at anything if we’re willing to work hard, dedicate ourselves, and practice.
  5. Create a Championship Team. The people we work with and the environment around us have a significant impact on our ability (or inability) to fully show up, engage, and thrive.

These principles are fairly easy to understand on the surface. But like many important aspects of life, growth, and business, it’s not the understanding of them that makes the biggest difference. It’s their application

By creating a culture that encourages us to show up fully, we are allowed to collectively do our best and ceate innovative work together. I look forward to leading you on this journey, and I hope you find Bring Your Whole Self To Work helpful, enlightening, and empowering.

About Author
Mike  Robbins
Mike Robbins is the author of four books,  Continue reading