Build an Engaged & Accountable Workplace
Employee engagement, by definition, is a voluntary commitment by the employee to produce the
value desired by the employer with no surprises. It is a state of mind; an outward expression of
inner responsibility felt by the employee to be committed and accountable which is driven by
intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivators. Too much control by management makes the likelihood
of intrinsic motivation unlikely.
The Elements of Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is created through a marriage of external systems and individual
responsibility. The leader’s job has two elements:
Develop a work environment that encourages employee engagement and accountability;
Hire individuals who want to be accountable (approximately 85% of people do) and enable
them to reach their full potential.
While this formula sounds simple and even simplistic, it is by no means easy to execute; similar to
the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii, it is beset with many twists and turns and you often find
yourself wondering whether the exercise is really worth it. To understand why, let’s examine what
employees say they want.
Research tells us that employees want the following things:
• CLEAR DIRECTION: People like to know what their job is and how they fit into the big
picture. They want to know how they will be measured and they want some assurance that
measurement will be fairly applied. They want access to the information, resources and
internal contacts they will need to execute the work properly. Typically, these directions
come from the immediate supervisor who must rely on the firm to have these elements in
place. Sadly, fewer than 25% of firms actually engage in annual firm wide planning; fewer
still cascade goals to departments and individuals.
• AUTONOMY: When challenges arise, the employee wants some level of autonomy in
determining what to do. That presumes a level of trust in the employee as well as clarity
about the purpose of the job and information relevant to the work. Personal autonomy
leads to both a sense of authority and a sense of job security.
• A SENSE OF COMPETENCE: Meeting each challenge provides the employee with a
sense of competence which is bolstered by new knowledge gained during the challenge.
Positive feedback and skill recognition can enhance the sense of competence as well as
the knowledge that the employee has lived up to high standards.
• MEANINGFUL WORK: This is work that is perceived to be important in some way and
offers a challenge. It is typically work that is non-repetitive or non-cyclical, is part of an
exciting vision and represents relevant and whole tasks – not pieces and parts of the work.
• A SENSE OF PURPOSE: Finally, the work has got to create a sense of progress toward
something with a larger purpose. It must be work that can be clearly measured so
progress can be illustrated and celebrations can result – the sense that “we made it.”
Often, the supervisor can help the employee make this all important connection between
the work and its overall contribution to the big picture. It is the difference between a
mason saying “I am laying bricks” to “I am building a Church”.
Building An Engaged & Accountable Workplace, © Headwinds Ltd.
P a g e | 3