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Should Employees Engage Themselves?

5 Aug 2015 - Blog

Should Employees Engage Themselves?

We’ve recently published a few posts that talk about managers being responsible for engaging employees. Things that managers have responsibility for like facilitating coaching and development, or the style they use to communicate with their employees, are factors that contribute to the engagement of the people they manage.

However, I’ve heard on the employee engagement grapevine and recently read a few articles that suggest that employees are the ones that are ultimately responsible for their engagement at work.

So, despite a difficult working environment, employees should be able to give themselves a shake and say ‘today I will fully engage’.

I’m afraid I disagree.


Engagement is everyone’s responsibility

Yes, sometimes we all have days when we are completely unreasonable and do nothing to breed positivity in the world around us. And yes, on those days we are to blame for people slamming a door in our face or stealing the last doughnut. But, on average, a person will be more engaged in their work and workplace if they feel appreciated, nurtured, and respected by those around them.

One article I read compared employee engagement relationships between manager and employee to romantic relationships between partners. The writer suggested that it doesn’t matter what changes an organisation makes to engage an employee, if the attraction isn’t there upfront the employee will never reciprocate the love.

This baffled me. How can we believe that change won’t bring about change when, just like a day of frowns could result in a door in the face, any change has the capacity to influence everything in its path?

If employees are not engaged, it is the responsibility of all people in the organisation – leaders, managers and teams – to cause positive influences and bring about a change in culture. Employee engagement is the responsibility of everyone. If it doesn’t exist, a change effort is required to make it commonplace.


Change takes effort

Of course, change isn’t always easy, especially if the change is something that takes real commitment to the cause, and the belief that change is possible isn’t present. However, if the effort is made, it is possible to create a culture of engagement whatever the situation.

“Managers and leaders can’t expect employees to ‘buck up and be engaged’ if they aren’t supporting a culture of engagement.”

Yes, employees always have a choice to be positive; we all have the choice to see the world in a more positive way, but being positive is much more difficult when the environment you’re in is toxic.

Unfortunately, if a particularly motivated person is placed into a toxic environment that doesn’t play to their strengths, they won’t stay motivated for long.

“The only colourful flower in a pot full of weeds isn’t going to flourish, and if the weeds don’t kill them off, the flower will likely take their colour elsewhere.”


Power creates culture

Those with more power and influence in organisations are those that create the culture that allows people to bring positivity and productivity to the fore. If managers and leaders are not encouraging a culture of engagement for all employees, how can they expect their employees to do so for them?


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