Business Results and Happier Employees
Interaction Consulting Group helps leaders to develop engagement, leading to better business results and happier employees.
What is engagement?
Engagement describes our attitude to our work. When we are engaged, we find our work meaningful and want to do our best. This leads to producing better results while simultaneously taking care of our own psychological well-being.
Of course, many companies already measure engagement, but may not be seeing this leading to improvement in business results or job satisfaction. This is because many focus too much on measuring engagement instead of addressing what drives engagement. It’s like trying to improve a car’s performance by focusing on the speedometer instead of the engine.
Where does engagement come from?
Engagement is born from our motivation. Our motivation is the basis for making work meaningful, and when we work in a way that aligns with that which is meaningful for us, we say that our motivation is “self-determined.” When we let others lead us so that our work is done in contradiction to what we believe to be right, we say that our motivation is “controlled.” Self-determined motivation gives us both the energy and ideas we need to engage wholeheartedly.
According to the Self-Determination Theory of motivational psychology developed by Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan, we have three basic psychological needs—Autonomy, Mastery and Relatedness. These three basic psychological needs are the essence of motivation.
Autonomy: We have a need to lead ourselves, in line with what we believe is important and right
Mastery: We have a need to use our knowledge and skills, and to acquire any new competence needed to do our work and make a positive difference
Relatedness: We have a need to work in groups where we support one another and bring out the best in one another
What does engagement lead to?
Leading research in behavioral science shows that optimal engagement is associated with at least nine positive results every company wants:
- Greater revenue growth
- Greater performance
- Greater commitment to values and policies
- Greater job commitment and less emotional exhaustion
- Greater job and compensation satisfaction
- Greater loyalty and trust
- Deeper learning
- Fewer physical health complaints
- Greater overall life satisfaction
Why does engagement lead to these results? When we choose to be engaged we have a sense of ownership of our work, we have the competency we need and we know how to grow our knowledge and skills, we have a sense of connection with the people we work with, and all of this necessary to do our best work.
When our basic psychological needs are fulfilled and we are engaged, we develop the creativity, efficiency and perseverance needed to do our best work.
Creativity might be said to be matter of combining elements in new ways to create results. A holistic understanding of the complexity involved in our work makes it easier to have a comprehensive understanding of the elements involved, and therefore we see how to combine the elements to solve the task.
Efficiency is a matter of removing elements without losing the desired result. And when we lead ourselves in the optimally engaged way that brings out our creativity and efficiency, we also have the right conditions for working with perseverance.
Perseverance is a matter of finding a way to overcome obstacles, learn from our mistakes and make any adjustments necessary to carry on towards our goal.
For a company and its leaders, engagement not only gives us what we want from our employees – creativity, efficiency and perseverance; it also provides what we want for our employees – psychological health and well-being. When we are engaged, we are more resilient and happier in our work, because our basic psychological needs are fulfilled. And when an organization makes engagement the foundation of its working environment, it provides what is needed for a sustainable, high-performance culture. It is a culture that is sustainable both for the employees and the business.
How do we develop engagement?
To develop engagement in an organization, we start by explaining what engagement is, where it comes from, and what it leads to. We help employees to consciously choose their direction, to prioritize and to lead themselves in making decisions aligned with their direction and priorities. It is essential that employees are able to reflect on the alignment of their own engagement and the objectives and values of the organization. When that which is important for the individual is aligned with that which is important for the organization, the individual quite naturally takes on an expanded sense of responsibility.
Leaders can facilitate the development of engagement by encouraging and supporting self-leadership. This is done by providing structure for reflection and dialogue, by asking good questions and listening actively to their team members. This approach gives employees training in how to approach their tasks with a holistic perspective, and to process and resolve both external and internal conflicts. In this way, employees learn to take responsibility for their own engagement. As in the classic story, they are not just given a fish, they learn to fish for themselves.
Our basic psychological needs are the drivers for our engagement, so it is a good place to start to ask the following three questions, whether we are considering leadership coaching, employee development, team development, conflict resolution or leadership training:
What are the opportunities and challenges you see in connection with the need to:
1) leading ourselves in line with we believe is important and right?
2) using our knowledge and skills, and acquiring new competence, to do our work and make a positive difference?
3) working in groups where we support one another and bring out the best in one another?
ICG can help you to explore these questions, and teach your leaders to do the same. In this way your people will learn to approach their work in way that best serves themselves and your organizaton.