What Exactly Is Engagement?

I guess I’m in the mood to think about how we define the terms that we throw about so easily these days. Last post leader, this post engagement.

We are continually hearing about the poor state of employee engagement. Surveys show that only about 30 percent of the North American workforce is fully engaged. I don’t think I know of any organizations that aren’t working to improve engagement.

In 1999 Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham introduced me to the Gallup Q12 survey in their book First Break All the Rules. The Q12 are the 12 Characteristics that create a strong workplace. Covering resources, expectations, leveraging employee strengths, and more, the characteristics he laid out were, for my undefined definition, the characteristics that cause engagement.

But what exactly is engagement? How do you know if employees are engaged? Once again, I went back to Coffman to see what Gallup had uncovered:

In Follow This Path Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina provide a list of the traits of engaged employees. I think this list goes a long way, to explain what engagement means.

Engaged employees:

  • Use their talents everyday.
  • Demonstrate consistent levels of high performance.
  • Show natural innovation and drive for efficiency.
  • Intentionally build supportive relationships.
  • Are clear about the desired outcomes of their role.
  • Emotionally commit to what they do.
  • Challenge purpose to achieve goals.
  • Work with high energy and enthusiasm.
  • Never run out of things to do, but create positive things to act on.
  • Broaden what they do and build on it.
  • Commit to company, work group, and role.

This is a list that fits my view of engagment. Based on what is listed here, would you say you are engaged?
Why or why not?

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2 Responses to “What Exactly Is Engagement?”


  1. 1 Terrence Seamon February 1, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Hi Cindy,
    This is one of the top management (and HR) topics these days!

    Using the 11-item list as a yardstick, I’d say that I am “engaged.”

    The question that I want to answer (and I am pursuing it) is: What can Managers do to promote high levels of employee engagement in their organizations?

    Terry

  2. 2 Cindy Ventrice February 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    It certainly is a hot topic!

    Most of us want to know how to actively engage because:
    1) It will improve productivity and profitabiltiy, not to mention safety, quality, and service.
    2) It creates a much more enjoyable work environment.

    As for what can managers do to promote high levels of engagement, a lot!

    In my work I have found that managers are the key. In surveys, interviews, and focus groups employees have told me that they want a respectful relationship with their manager. They want to be listened to, they want assignments matched to their strengths, they want appropriate challenges, and they want regular feedback. Organizations can’t provide any of this without the managers’ support!


Comments are currently closed.



My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.


Visit my website www.maketheirday.com today!


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