The way this question is structured maps well with one of the myths in the way we tend to think of engagement. Engagement Myth #1 - Engagement is a fixed and final destination. Conversations about engagement can sometimes make it sound like the Disney World of employment, meaning that once we get there, we have achieved magical greatness. That expectation is where things can fall down. Engagement isn’t a destination, it’s a journey; it’s an ongoing process and all the steps in that process can support or detract from engagement. So instead of it just being about being at Disney World, it’s everything from deciding to go on a trip, to choosing the place (maybe it’s Disney World, and maybe not), buying the tickets, planning it out, going on the trip, taking pictures, coming back home, telling people about it, choosing your next adventure, and on and on and on. Because engagement is a process and not a fixed end point, we can tell right away, and at any step along the way, if someone is engaged. And we should be doing that. We need to look at it from the very beginning because that’s when we would expect engagement to be at its peak. It’s like a honeymoon period, or it should be, and if we don’t see engagement then, when would we expect to see it? In fact, great managers start talking with their new team member about engagement from day 1. They let them know as their manager they will be doing everything they can to make it a workplace where they can be engaged and succeed. But they also let them know each of us has a personal responsibility for our own engagement. Research from our good friends in Australia, shcBond, reminds us that “attachment” in the workplace is the primary driver in a persons discretionary effort and engagement. That attachment is well established by the 90th day of employment. Start discussing engagement with people regularly and as soon as possible. Get curious about what’s supporting their engagement, understand what’s detracting from it and make a plan for keeping the conversation top of mind. Email me if you want some help engaging your team!
Kerage founder, Karen Kersey, writes for our partner vNacelle, a strategic consulting firm committed to growing, reigniting and empowering the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. Karen collaborated on this article with vNacelle leader and serial entrepreneur, Jimmy Taylor.