Today's organizations have had to coin a new phrase, "employee engagement," to address the unique motivational needs of today's workers. However, the term has been used loosely to mean many different things. Employee engagement is defined here as active self-management—the key requirement of today's work. In turn, employee engagement is powered and sustained by the intrinsic rewards generated by self-management itself—by the sense of meaningfulness, the sense of choice, the sense of competence, and the sense of progress that come from effective self-management. Research findings show the powerful effects of the intrinsic rewards—on performance, professional development, job satisfaction, retention, organizational loyalty, and reduced stress. These four intrinsic rewards, then, are the psychological vital signs of an engaged work force. They provide a relatively healthy, positive, and sustainable form of motivation
Leaders Need a Diagnostic Framework to Build Engagement
Organizations and their leaders have been trying many different tactics, in a hit-or-miss way, to try to enhance engagement. Likewise, career-counseling books have promoted different strategies to help job holders make their work more rewarding. They provide a two-step set of diagnostics to give you a more efficient way of diagnosing engagement problems and providing the conditions needed to enhance engagement. The first step involves determining the levels of the four key intrinsic rewards to see whether low engagement is due to a deficiency in meaningfulness, choice, competence, or progress—because their sources and remedies are quite different. The second step involves examining the key building blocks for each intrinsic reward, as a kind of checklist to see which building blocks for that reward may be missing. This decision tree leads to a set of actions to help create the missing building block.
It Is Important for Leaders to Learn to Manage Their Own Intrinsic Rewards
Workshops have shown that it is much easier for leaders to lead for engagement when they first learn how to manage their own intrinsic rewards. Developing this skill helps you recognize the intrinsic rewards in your employees, gives you more credibility, and—as a bonus—helps you stay more engaged and energized. So after seeing rich descriptions of the experience of being high or low in each reward, we hope you recognize and chart your own levels of the rewards and discussed sets of actions that you can take to help create the building blocks that boost each reward in your own job.
Leading for Engagement Is a Matter of Following Basic Principles
Engaging employees is not a matter of personality or charisma. There are number of general guidelines or tips that include focusing on the steps of self-management, playing a positive role, listening and enabling, providing credible evidence for the intrinsic rewards, explaining your leadership philosophy, de-emphasizing money as a motivator, and working to engage the "motivational middle." It has also provided observable signs of the four intrinsic rewards in groups to help you chart their current levels in your team and to set some priorities for deciding which intrinsic rewards need the most attention. Importantly, focus on sets of leadership actions that you can take to create the building blocks for any of the intrinsic rewards that require your attention.