Employee Engagement is an individual’s investment of wisdom, skills, energies, creativity and time in the work assigned.
Each of my next five posts will explore one of those components: wisdom, skills, energies, creativity, and time. For easy study, each article will follow a pattern: What It Means (Definition), What It Brings (Value), and How To Bring It On (Actions).
What Wisdom Means (Definition)
Wisdom is the ability to think and act utilizing these factors: knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. Wisdom impacts decisions, plans and actions for our business. That’s true for new products, site opening, market expansion, and personnel decisions. The more wisdom factors applied, the better the decision-making process, the better the decision.
What Wisdom Brings (Value)
These values results from wisdom employees apply to their work. The broader, deeper, more embedded their wisdom, the greater each value.
Competitive Advantage. The company performing from greater wisdom normally trumps its competitors. Knowledge may relate to product engineering, market movement, sales efficiency, operations expenses, human asset management. Experience that comes from past successes or failures is a learning source. Common sense and insight add the special touch to maximize the other wisdom factors. The head start and strong finish from talented employees’ wisdom is a decided competitive advantage.
Added Value. Positive attention to wisdom contributes to success and encourages employees to “turn up their wisdom.” That results in added value. Work is done more quickly and with more quality. Product is designed or refined with an enthusiastic, clear eye to the market. Expenses are managed thanks to more ready attention to budgets. When employees are invited to bring their wisdom to the table, they do. When their wisdom generates a recognized return, they bring it again and again. Each return adds value.
Process/Performance Improvement. Applied wisdom drives the desire to make work processes better: more efficient, more effective, more enjoyable, more error-free. Opportunities to use wisdom motivate improvement of one’s performance, team’s performance, and company’s performance. Employee engagement generates improved performance. Certainly, the effort to improve performance or process is engagement by the employee.
How To Bring Wisdom On (Actions)
Each suggestion is a category of actions you may discover, design, create for application in your company, with your employees. These are to key your employees in to their wisdom, motivate their nurturing that wisdom and generate their ownership of their wisdom-actions.
Information. Few things are more frustrating than not having base information to tackle a project. Few things are more wasted than information lying around without application. Information and action reinforce each other. When the information is available, invite employees to verbalize how it might be used. Then trigger their wisdom-machine by inviting “how else?” When there’s a task to be done but information is missing, invite employees to specify what information they need. Then trigger their wisdom-machine by asking, “How might we gather that info?”
Challenge. Humans enjoy challenges. Humans enjoy rising to challenges. A challenge must be beatable. A challenge must not be so mundane it seems a waste of time. Engage your employees in challenges that will accomplish something for the good of the company AND call upon their wisdom resources (knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, intuition) AND stretch their “think-ability”. An excellent challenge is to have employees apply stories (true, of course) to successful challenge experiences. Stories about challenge engage employees in applying their wisdom.
Stimulate. Wisdom is something we possess, we rely on, and makes us feel good when we see its results. But it doesn’t get a lot of up-front attention (unless this posting changes that). Consider installing and encouraging what I’ve called “thought-changers” among your employees. Give them specific encouragements to think in a different way, a different direction, with different logical tools. This article offers five thought-changing activities: 5 Thought Changers to Grow Employee Engagement.
Wisdom is a powerful fuel for employee engagement and talent engagement. It is but 1 of 5 fuels. Next we’ll look at Skills.
About the Author: Tim Wright is professional speaker/coach/facilitator with expertise in employee engagement and culture improvement.