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The next time you’re in your office, take a moment to look around you. How many of the people you see appear truly invested in and invigorated by their work?

How many of them are willing—and are given the time—to wrestle a problem until they understand the problem clearly, find the best possible solution (not a Band-Aid) and produce the best possible output?

How many of them are engaged in not just fighting fires, but are continuously improving even in areas where they already excel?

If your organization is like many I’ve been in, there are probably few employees absolutely invested in their work, or the company mission.

How many of them are engaged in not just fighting fires, but are continuously improving even in areas where they already excel?

Can you blame them? Many organizations have developed habits that teach team members to disengage. Organizations fail to listen; they fail to establish the environmental conditions that enable engagement. Instead, they exhaust employees with a lack of clarity, focus, and discipline; and “reward” performance with either a bit of cash or, all too often, a kick out the door.

Engagement, in my view, is neither an attitude nor a behavior.

Organizations fail to listen; they fail to establish the environmental conditions that enable engagement

Full employee engagement is an outcome that results when an organization embraces “The 3 C’s” —connection, control, and creativity—and takes active steps to create a work environment that allows these basic human needs to be met, to include:

  • Fostering connection to the organization’s purpose, goals, and both internal and external customers

  • Handing over control of appropriate aspects of how work gets done

  • Challenging the employee’s intellectual capacity and providing ample opportunities for the employee to express their creativity

Everyone likes to feel they do something well and they contribute to something larger than themselves.

When organizations, owing to performance-undermining habits, prevent employees from either producing work they can be proud of or deny them appropriate levels of recognition and encouragement, they send a clear message:

“Please disengage. Stop caring about your work. Stop caring about this organization.”

There’s no need for work to be this hard. And there’s no need for employees to leave work at the end of the day feeling depleted and unappreciated.

Outstanding organizations learn how to get out of their own way and build the conditions for engagement that carry deep respect for the people involved. Customer satisfaction is likely to be higher. Top and bottom lines are stronger. And leaders can sleep better at night.

There’s no need for employees to leave work at the end of the day feeling depleted and unappreciated

When you, your organization and your team members are engaged, you’ll see employees who become more invested, and invigorated.