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In my experience all of these points boil down into one. Responsibility.

The key is to hire good people and let them do their jobs. When you give people direction without micro-managing them they take ownership of the work they're doing. They're responsible for what happens. They become engaged.

Steve Roesler

Hey, Shane,

Thanks for checking in.

The whole issue of hiring well and then giving the right direction seems to get lost in this. I think you're on the money with the profound simplicity of your comment.

Any thoughts about why that doesn't happen?

Simon Clay Michael

I'd add Physical Space to the list.
Having spent a lot of time (in a previous life) visiting and working from client sites, it was easy to see that poor work spaces or office appearance did set the "Mood" for the employees, and ultimately their level of engagement.

Steve Roesler

Wow. Isn't it fascinating that in the midst of paying attention to the "high level" stuff we manage to ignore the fundamentals.

Thanks, Simon.

Simon Clay Michael

as soon as you said fundamentals, I thought of a more obvious requirement: "Tools".
Having the right tools and equipment.

Steve Roesler


I think you are generating some useful content for another post on engagement!

peter vajda

So, what is it about some managers that precludes them from engaging others, from proactively, addressing others' needs and wants as opposed to viewing employees' needs and wants as an "irritant" or a "bother" - not an ingredient that fosters engagement.

When a manager's (ego-driven) needs come first, often one result is to view others as objects, not people, and in doing so, justify ignoring and resisting others' needs and wants.

Many folks initially come to work energized, engaged and passionate only to experience their enthusiasm erode as they find themselves working for a manager whose only interest is self-interest — the manager's fiefdom, reputation, need for recognition, power and control....basically their ego. So, for me, it's not surprising to hear the laments of folks who are dis-engaged and detached from their work, their organizations...due to managers who "don't see me," managers who are unsupportive, distant, managers who are solely focused on their own gain, managers who see everyone else as a "problem."

"Walking the talk" about engagement needs not be discussed and espoused so much as it needs to be lived. It's hard to live the life of engagement, i.e., honest, healthy, mutual relationships, when one is caught up in the daily insecurity of needing to serve one's own ego, when one comes from a "I-You" place rather than a "We" place.

As a manager, when my aim is to support others to achieve their results, to be helpful to others, to view the organization, the team as a group of "people", not objects, right here and right now, then perhaps engagement will be more than a discussion topic, it will actually be a way of life, life at work.

One liners - for me..ask questions to foster engagement, such as:

What's on your mind? What do you think?
What do you want/need to do your best work?
What are we doing/not doing that is inhibiting results?
What will happen if we do/don't (action)?
What won't happen if we do/don't (action)?

Steve Roesler

Well, Peter, the notion of "way of life" gets back to many of our conversations about becoming the kind of person who lives out that way of life.

It seems that when things involving the human condition become programs, they lose their ability to do that for which they were intended. Employee Engagement is no different. It's a lot easier to write, ruminate, and discuss the intellectual attributes of such a thing than it is to let down and say "Hey, let's answer Peter's one-liners and see what happens?"

And speaking of your questions: I'm thinking of doing a follow up post on this topic. May I use your questions? (With attribution, of course!).

peter vajda

"It seems that when things involving the human condition become programs, they lose their ability to do that for which they were intended"

I wonder why...

One thought is that crafting behavioral stuff into a "technology" is a plus and a minus. The plus being that, "OK, great, we now have a nice list, neat and clean, steps, process..." and all that. We do this a lot in our culture. And, the technology can be effective....if implemented.

The minus is that many take the technology, for example, and read it as they would a a novel...from "outside", passively, hmmm, interesting, some good stuff, maybe discuss it, maybe look for chinks (that let me off the implementation hook) and then let it go. No follow-up, no action, no change in do-ing and be-ing. But, good reading; good discussion...

"And speaking of your questions: I'm thinking of doing a follow up post on this topic. May I use your questions? (With attribution, of course!)."

Of course, Steve.



Good hiring and good direction doesn't happen when there's a lack of leadership ability in the leaders. I've had my moments (good and bad) as far as providing and following great leadership.

The outcome is always the same. Capable leadership is capable of engaging a team.

Steve Roesler

Shane, the research, experience, and common sense tell us that people get and stay committed because of the leadership of their immediate boss. It sounds as if your experience reflects that.

Now, additional factors are impacting the values and aspirations of employees at every level in an organization. Learning and professional development rank high in the minds of younger employees. Immediate bosses don't always have control over the company's approach in that area. And you and I can have the most honest boss in the department. But when people see others bending the rules and being allowed to do so, we tend to back up a little and begin to look skeptically at the corporation. These things, when allowed to reach critical mass, chip away at commitment and engagement.

What do you think?

Heather J.

As a communications professional, I've often been asked, "We know why employee engagement is good for the employer - but what's in it for the employee? What do they get out of being engaged?" I'm curious about others' thoughts!

Trupti Nayak

Hi Steve,
That is a brialliant point you have raised..." What's in it for the Employee"...upon relfection, I go back to the basics- Abraham Maslow's Theory: Basic, Security, Affilliation,Esteem anf Actualisation needs....Does the employee know his/her role, job and related responsibilities? ( KRA Clarification)? Are they given appropriate opportunities to demo their talent?
Are the employees TIMELY and recognised and APPROPRIATELY rewarded for the contribution they make to the role and the company? ( effective performance management system)
Does the company have good enviorment to make friends and acquaitances? ( Handling organisational politics)
Career Planning and appropriate support systems
Prima Facie, these are few thought on what an employer could look into to ensure optimum employee engagement!

Recent blog post: Do Not Show

Steve Roesler


Aha! I like that you added the reference to Maslow and tied it into employees having their needs met. Indeed, one way to look at security is the very notion of understanding one's role and exactly how one fits into the larger picture.

Recent blog post: Stress, Fear, Action, Relief

Jack gorman

I have taken an initiative to improve engagement in my workplace and I was having the same thoughts that the definition of engagement is perceived differently depending who/what division you are talking to.

I also came to the conclusion that you don't have to have a set definition of it. The important thing is that the singular person believes his definition of it is being understood and improved, then all (the work force) will become more enthusiastic, moral lifted and hence become, Engaged!!

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