Research has found there are typically two types of engagement we human beings recognise and compartmentalise. The first is our personal engagement. This is the ‘pizazz’ in what we do, it’s what stimulates us intellectually by the action we take, and what we think about in relation to progress in the world of work. It is the range to which we feel free to express our individuality in the work we do, and a heightened personal engagement directly relates back to feeling responsible for the work we do and progress we make. When we are engaged as individuals we are energised to take accountability for who we are and what we do, but even more than that—we think curiously. To think curiously is to think without preconceived ideas and retrospective ideas of progress. When we are personally engaged we are deeply committed to our interpersonal relationships and open to collaborative successes to achieve genuine progress regardless of affirmation.
The second form of engagement is “work engagement”. This focuses on our energy, dedication and concentration for the success of organisational progress. The main differences are that personal engagement is characterised by a holistic psychological response, whereas work engagement focuses on broad attitude towards work.
Leaders are often interested in increasing employee engagement, a recent study by Dr. Luke Fletcher from Brighton Business School, points out that it is important for us to dig deep into what exactly we are trying to impact when we aim to promote engagement.
Dr. Fletcher surveyed 304 full-time workers in the United Kingdom. The survey measured personal engagement, work engagement, and work behaviours (among other variables) to look for relationships. Dr. Fletcher was able to show that personal engagement has a stronger impact than work engagement on employees’ perceptions of their capabilities and adaptability. They see themselves as more skilled and better able to adjust to change—two important outcomes, especially in an era when new practices and tools are constantly emerging in most jobs.
Put simply, passion counts. If employees feel deeply connected to their roles and invest more of themselves, they are more likely to be fully active on the job, resulting in better performance. Personal engagement deepens an employee’s sense of fulfilment in their work. They feel encouraged to think outside of the realm of traditional strategy, and to think curiously about genuine progress. In other words, they ask the ‘why’ in what they do.
Personal engagement deepens an employee’s sense of fulfilment in the work. If you are trying to affect employee engagement, then it may be beneficial to focus your energies on building a sense of personal engagement.
What can we do?
Consider strategies and new thinking that promote:
· Individual development through genuine work-related identity
· Promote social relationships
· Encourage thinking that is curious
· Educate on the ‘why’ we do what we do, highlighting the impact of their work.
In this way, development isn’t just about learning to do, but also about learning to be. Modern practices that promote social and experiential learning—and that help employees to develop deeper networks among their peers—will also serve to build role engagement. When training programs are offered, leadership development professionals can include components that promote communication and interaction, especially among those with similar roles. Additionally, developing leaders’ skills in creating inclusive department learning cultures also supports the growth of personal role engagement.
Finally, if you want tips on how to engage your people, then these 3 principles are proven to engage employees:
· Apportion ownership
· Promote accountability
· And always, reward progress with recognition.