How can you stay engaged when everything is changing within companies and it becomes very difficult to have a vision of the organisation’s strategy as it adapts to different contexts? Given the ever-greater uncertainty, ever-greater acceleration, etc., it’s not surprising that employees, and managers in particular, are becoming less and less committed.
Besides, there is a crisis of motivation to become a manager. Those who are managers get pulled in many directions between collective work, the ‘phygital’ and new expectations relating to data, AI and the whole business of remote working now.
Let us begin with a definition. There are three ways of defining involvement at work, with the terms ‘motivation’, ‘involvement’ and ‘engagement’:
– Motivation is when you enjoy doing something, be it for intrinsic reasons personal to you or extrinsic reasons that come from outside.
– Involvement is when you enjoy doing something and in addition, you get a result. There is, therefore, a positive deliverable.
– Engagement represents a higher level again. It is when you enjoy doing something and you obtain a result but above all, you carry others with you. This case embodies the idea of influence and dynamism. And this is what companies are seeking: committed employees, managers who have some influence, who are group dynamics ‘figureheads’.
The pandemic and the crises that we have been through have led to a fundamental change
So how can people remain engaged? It is very important to understand that the pandemic and the crises that we have been through have led to a fundamental change.
The first change is that previously, when we spoke of engagement we were engaged to a group. Today, we are engaged to a community.
Previously, we were engaged to the company’s brand, its products, the way our work was organised, to what we did. Today, above all with the arrival of the Alpha generation, we are engaged because we are part of a project that embodies a value, that embodies a mission, that is much bigger than the individual.
We are engaged because we like the people with whom we work, and we work in a community. We are engaged because we can learn, because we can develop skills. It is clear here that we are no longer engaged to the organisation but to what it provides us with at the individual level.
The expectations of employees who are engaged are no longer rational.
The second big change is the root of engagement. Before, we were engaged because we could have a career, because we were paid well, because we had a future… Today, all the studies, including the latest by Gallup in 2022, show that the expectations of employees who are engaged are no longer rational.
They are expectations related to the way in which we work: kindness, being listened to, the manner in which we are understood, the way in which trust is perceived. It is clear that today, engagement is expressed much more in terms of relationships whereas previously it was in terms of production.
- Firstly, it is absolutely necessary to train employees and managers to have a vision of their own meaning at work. And that can be learned!
- Secondly, it is important to have a management system based on a methodology. To that end, we created the 5R® model that can be summarised like this: for a group to be engaged, each member must have a role, recognition, routine, rules and respect.
- Thirdly, it is important to have warning systems. These can take the form of questionnaires, but also “apps” to indicate when loss of engagement is starting to show up.
- To conclude, in order to develop engagement it is important to disseminate a new leadership method. We have identified two solutions for this: using mindfulness (which is truly a response to the acceleration within organisations) and managing through care, since knowing how to take care of yourself in order to better take care of your team is a very positive lever.
This is an adaptation of an article previously published in French by Xerfi Canal.
This post gives the views of its author, not the position of ESCP Business School.
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