How to get the engagement conversation started: Are you in?

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Cover Image: Engagement Magic by Tracy Maylett, Ed.D.

Engagement is a choice.

This is the main takeaway from “Engagement Magic: Five Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations,” the book I’ve mentioned in a previous post, where I described the five key drivers of engagement: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact and Connection.

“Engagement Magic” is the latest book on my reading list, which is helping me facilitate the Campus Engagement workgroup through May 2020 at Virginia Western.

This passage really sums up the central message from author Tracy Maylett, who has advised companies on employee engagement for over 20 years:

Most organizations don’t understand engagement, so they can’t create it. One of the biggest misapprehensions is that engagement is something the organization imposes on employees — that it’s transactional. If I give you this, that, and the other, you’ll become engaged in your work. It’s as if engagement were something done to employees, something inflicted upon them. And this is another reason most engagement efforts fail — they assume the responsibility for engagement rests solely on the shoulders of the organization. But in reality, engagement is a 50-50 proposition — a two-way street. Yes, the organization is responsible for creating an environment where engagement can flourish — tilling and amending the soil so that engagement can grow, so to speak. But the employee has an equal responsibility to be engaged. Engagement is collaborative: The organization must create the environment in which employees can choose to engage, but it’s up to the employee to say, “I’m in!” (p. 3)

Are you “in”?

Do you want to be, but don’t know where to start?

I have two tools for you today, thanks to “Engagement Magic.”

First is a free self-assessment. All they want is your email address:

And let me say this: If you register as “Fully Engaged” on this assessment, please come talk to me about a “Joy Squad” idea I’m working on. You might be perfect.

The second tool was worth the price of the book: A list of questions that will help you reflect on the key drivers of YOUR engagement. We all engage differently based on what matters to us as individuals — so there’s no one-size-fits-all incentive program that will engage the entire campus. Remember, we like to choose how to engage (this applies to students, too).

The Campus Engagement team is working on some cool ideas to enhance campus communication and knowledge; however, the relationships you cultivate with your supervisor and immediate colleagues are really the key to your day-to-day engagement.

Below are the questions from the book’s appendix, a resource for managers who would like to start a conversation about engagement:

  1. What does a good day at work look like for you?
  2. What does a bad day look like?
  3. What do you like about your work?
  4. What do you wish were different?
  5. Do you have fun at work?
  6. How do you feel at the end of the day?
    1. What about your job gets you out of bed in the morning?
    2. Where do you find meaning in your work? Where is it missing?
    3. How does your job help you accomplish what’s most important in your life? How does it detract? What’s missing?
    1. What type(s) of autonomy is/are most important to you? Where you work? With whom you work? When you work? What you work on? Any others?
    2. Where is that autonomy present, and where is it missing?
    3. How do you feel about the level of direction and support you receive from me? From others?
    1. Where do you feel you are growing in your job? Where do you feel stagnant?
    2. Are there areas outside what you do each day that you would like to be involved in? Where would you like your career to go, and how can we support that?
  10. IMPACT
    1. Where do you feel your work has the greatest impact (on whom, what, etc.)? Where do you feel you’re spinning your wheels?
    2. When people evaluate your performance, what do you think are the key areas they look at? What’s going well? What’s getting in the way?
    3. Where do you see yourself currently making a difference? Where would you like to see yourself making a difference?
    1. Tell me about the people you work with. Do you enjoy working with them?
    2. What type(s) of connection is/are most important to you?
    3. Do you feel like you belong here? Why or why not?
  12. Where is our organization letting you down? Where is it lifting you up? What needs to change in that area?
  13. Where am I letting you down as a boss? How am I helping you? What needs to change in our relationship?
  14. If you won the lottery tomorrow and left your job, what would you miss most?
  15. What keeps you here? What might entice you away from our team today?

I encourage you to share ideas you may have for the Campus Engagement workgroup. And you’re always welcome to borrow any books I’ve mentioned, including “Engagement Magic.” (I’m amassing quite the personal library.) Email or call 857-6084.

— Stephanie Ogilvie Seagle, October 2019

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About Stephanie

Stephanie SeagleStephanie Ogilvie Seagle has served as Grant Specialist at Virginia Western since 2016, but she prefers her honorary title: “Chief Joy Officer.” Stephanie spent most of her career at The Roanoke Times, a daily newspaper, where she served in various news and features roles including “Shoptimist” shopping columnist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative studies at George Mason University and a master’s of arts in liberal studies at Hollins University. Stephanie is a mom to one human daughter and multiple chihuahuas … and is obsessed with reading nonfiction, Halloween, and crafting glow necklaces inspired by the Mill Mountain Star. Glow Roanoke!