Often when we talk about engagement in the workplace, it is a conversation about how employers can encourage a higher level in their employees. There are massive studies around this topic and how disengagement correlates to more sick time, accidents, etc. Gallup has done phenomenal amounts of work around this topic and has come up with the top 12 items that support engagement. Here’s a link to the 12 correlating questions, a good read - http://www.goalbusters.net/uploads/2/2/0/4/22040464/gallup_q12.pdf
Let’s think about our own engagement level though and the ways we benefit from being fully engaged. When I’m not fully engaged in my work (or life for that matter) I suffer. Work is less interesting, more frustrating, I’m stressed to see Monday morning roll around. When I find ways to be personally invested in my work I benefit.
Let’s be clear. I am not advocating selling your soul to the business you work for. I thoroughly encourage work/life “balance”. What I’m talking about is finding ways to work that are more life giving and rewarding for you.
I’ve had my share of really horrible jobs. Many years ago I was a “word processor” in a phone company. It was my job to type people’s hand written notes. I was marked on my keystrokes per minute - I’m not kidding! Someone printed what I typed and for doing so, was at a higher pay grade than I was. Even worse, the people who marked my work were also at a higher grade and completely enjoyed catching “errors” with a red pen - and debating with me on my understanding of grammar and my definition of a sentence. The red marks lowered my keystrokes per minute, even if their contributions were glaringly wrong. (To guard my sanity I often asked my friend with an MA in English to review my work and tell me I wasn’t losing it!)
I went home many nights in tears - tears of frustration and anger. After being given a very serious review about my performance with hints of “you could be fired” I decided I needed to do something. My work itself was very frustrating and partly because it felt like my intellectual contributions were being negated at every turn. This was the motivation I needed to start taking Masters courses in counseling. It eventually led to me getting my MA in counseling. My strategy at the time was to have something in my life that was intellectually stimulating and to have a place where my contributions could be affirmed.
It worked and I ended up taking classes with the manager from the same company’s employment center who ended up moving me in to human resources and it was life changing.
There are many different reasons why we want to disengage at work. It can be a difficult boss. Maybe it’s office politics or too much or too little work. Lack of recognition or lack of freedom in how to get the job done can also be big factors.
Whatever is behind it, do yourself a favor and find the things that help you engage more for your own sake. What will let you feel more fulfilled? What will bring you a sense of accomplishment?
Here are some ideas to increase your work engagement:
What is one thing you could do differently this coming week to make work more fulfilling for you? (You know I’d love to hear your stories!)
Until next time,
Marilyn is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Capacity Building Coaching, holding her Professional Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation. Marilyn provides professional coaching for executive and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training, soft-skills development, facilitation of key discussions and team coaching.
Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, available on Amazon. Subscribe to “Marilyn’s Musings” twice monthly blogposts for more leadership and professional development content.