A New Perspective on Employee Engagement

We know the communities, economies, humanity, technology and business have massively evolved since the industrial revolution, but our management and organisational leadership training, education and practices, in general, have not.

Nothing could highlight this more than the latest Gallup poll on staff engagement which measured staff engagement at around 13% globally. Interestingly, the statistics on engagement are at an all time low, while the investment in ‘staff engagement’ initiatives are at an all time high.

“To remain relevant as leaders and managers, we need to challenge the holy grails, debunk myths and invent new practices better suited for the 21st century. We need to move beyond past paradigms and create new, future oriented paradigms and ways of leading.”

Gabby Button

Clearly we need to rethink what it means to manage staff – but where do we start?

We can start by noting down the things we know in our heart of hearts that are broken. For example, we know that it is no longer acceptable to say “it’s not personal, it’s just business”. It is no longer OK to treat staff as ‘assets’. It is no longer sufficient to undertake ‘performance management’ as a soulless six monthly or annual process.  

We know staff are not seeking work-life balance, they are seeking work-life integration.  That they don’t just want a job, they want a life. Today, it is not just about the money, it about passion, meaning, purpose, satisfaction and happiness.

We don’t need research to tell us staff are looking to work with companies that are doing good in the world and that they want to work with managers and leaders that have integrity, a vision and know how to mentor, coach and manage.

As managers and leaders, we should be asking ourselves:

  • How can we facilitate this new level of connection at work?
  • How can we re-imagine and evolve organisational leadership and management so that we maximise the energy, alignment and ultimately enagement of individuals, and also deliver on our business imperatives?

Re-Inventing Management and Leadership

To start the process of re-invention of management and leadership get together with other managers and leaders, consultants and coaches, health professionals and spiritual gurus. Why? To discuss this very concept and to generate new ideas.

That is how we developed the ‘Shine Model™’. One compontent of a larger innovative approach to management, organisational and team leadership. It aims to provide managers with a new approach to increase engagement by supporting their staff into greater levels of life/work integration.

Work/life integration is about consciously seeking to align who we are, our vision for ourselves, what we love, what we need/want and what we are good at, with what we do. It aims to create more meaning, engagement, energy, fun and sustainability at work and in our personal lives.

Decades of personal development research and spiritual practices support the concept that as we evolve as humans, we seek greater levels of alignment driven from our personal values, beliefs, strengths, gifts, talents and vision for ourselves and our lives.

Unfortunately, the process of integrating and aligning work and life does not happen naturally for most.  So as managers and leaders it is up to us to find ways to bring this inevitable evolution into business. This is where the ‘Shine Model™’ comes in.

Shine Model™

The  Shine Model™ provides a new ‘lens’ through which to view and influence ‘engagement’. It is also intended to prompt new thought and innovation, and contribute to the evolution of our management and organisational leadership models and practices.

The objective of the Shine Model™ is to maximise employee engagement and energy, and create a fabulous and sustainable business at the same time. This model can be applied equally as a personal and professional development tool, as well as a management, leadership and coaching tool.

The Shine Model ™ provides a common language, tools and techniques to facilitate regular discussion, reflection and self directed action.

The skills and knowledge learnt through the application of this model will benefit employees not only in their work, but in their life in general. It will also serve as a model that can be applied to their entire career, supporting them to gain ever increasing alignment and awareness of their unique gifts, talents, passions and vision. It is a tool that teaches them how to integrate their business life with their personal life for the benefit of all.

With the right level of guidance employees can even navigate their own integration, alignment and engagement journey. Imagine the pressure that takes off management!

Each of the seven aspects of the model are summarised below and include a short insight from a management and employee perspective.

1.     Aligning

Employee: Aligning it the process of identifying what is important to you in your personal and work life before applying for a job. Then, during the interview process actively assessing your ability to align and integrate your personal and work life in the role and the organisation.

Prior to applying for a job ask yourself questions such as:

  • What people, places, things, or activities are sources of energy for me?
  • What are my values? What would I not compromise on in my life?
  • What work hours and work arrangement are important to me?
  • What is important to me now and over the coming year / years?
  • What are my strengths, gifts, talents?
  • What is the vision for my self personally and professionally in the coming year / years?
  • What would get me excited to get up and go to work each day?
  • What am I wanting more of / less of in relation to my work environment ?

Prior to the interview, research the company, the management, the job and see how it aligns with your answers.  At the interview, ask questions to help you understand the internal workings of the company, the people, the values. Continually assess your level of alignment with the organisation and the role and make your decision accordingly. Trust your gut. As part of the Shine Model we have a checklist for preparation and a range of questions to ask during interviews.

Manager: Aligning is the process of gaining clarity on what is required for a role prior to the recruitment process. Ensure you have clarity on a range of key areas that will be important to the applicant, and imperative for them  and you, to be able to assess the level of work/life integration on offer. Examples include;

  • What is important to the company?
  • What is the vision of the company, of your team, of the role?
  • What values are important to the company and how they are demonstrated?
  • What are the career and progression prospects?
  • Who is the ideal applicant in terms of their values, passions, gifts, strengths and vision?
  • What are the skill requirements of the job?
  • What work flexibility do you offer?

Prepare a set of interview questions that will allow you to assess a candidates level of alignment with the role and the organisation. They are likely to be similar to those below. Appoint a candidate not only on their skills and capabilities, but on their level of alignment and ability to integrate their work/life once they join the organisation. Trust your gut. As part of the Shine Model we have a checklist for preparation and questions to ask during interviews.  

2.     Designing

Manager + Employee: ‘Designing’ takes place when a new staff member joins the company. Regardless of how good the ‘fit’ seemed in the interview process, this is where the rubber meets the road, where reality hits! It is a conscious and iterative process of ‘designing and implement’ work/life integration.

Manager: Ensure you have a defined ‘coaching’ process for the first 90 days, where you can regularly ‘check in’ with you new staff member to discuss amongst other things, their perception of reality v expectations, their level of engagement and energy.

Actively support the employee in connecting their personal goals and aspirations with the vision and goals of the business, and in ‘designing’ their work/life integration. As part of the Shine Model we have ‘First 90 Days’ program outlined to assist with the manager and staff member with this critical phase of engagement.

Employee: Use the first 90 days to get to know the role, the team, the managers and the business including policies, procedures and processes that apply to your role. Be inquisitive. Continually ask yourself questions such as:

  • How is reality panning out compared to expectations?
  • How do you feel about going to work?
  • What is exciting you about the company?
  • How are you using your gifts and talents to add value to the business?
  • How can you add greater value using your gifts and talents?

Start owning and ‘designing’ your future and contributing to the companies goals. Get excited!  

3.     Refining

Manager + Employee: Designing kicks off and demonstrates commitment to the Shine process and should provide you with a framework that can be used to promote ongoing integration, alignment and engagement. The reality is of course, that integration of personal and work life is an ongoing process. So now it is time to move into a constant state for ‘refining’.

Employee: This is where you are actively integrating your work and personal life. It is time to take the reigns. Become aware of where you feel connected and engaged at work and where you don’t. Continue to ask how you can contribute to the companies vision and goals whilst meeting your own needs and desires. Share ideas and challenges with your manager and other team members. Consider this a process of ‘continuous improvement and self leadership’.

Manager: Start observing the energy and connection of the staff member and schedule regular ‘one on ones’ that encourage open and honest discussion. Discussion related to both business and personal outcomes and identify key actions to move forward on on both. As part of the Shine Model we have a list of coaching questions, conversation guidelines and suggested approaches to regular one on ones.

4.     Shining

Employee: Shining is that state of feeling connected, aligned, integrated and engaged. Those times where you feel in the flow. Where you feel in the slipstream of life. This is where magic happens. 😊 The connection provides motivation and resilience to work through the tough time and you energise those around you simply by your presence. This is a state that will come and go. The objective, of course, is to maximise the amount of time spent in this state.

So, as you feel moments of ‘shining’, congratulate yourself. Enjoy being in the ‘flow’. The energy, joy, satisfaction and excitement that it brings, but don’t be complacent. Continue growing your awareness and understanding of how you arrived at this wonderful state and continue ‘refining’ to stay in the flow. From this state you should also be enjoying energising and motivating others in your team and organisation.

Manager: When you have staff who are clearly ‘shining’ you will know it. You will feel it. Others will feel it. However, do not stop the ‘one on ones’, and the ‘refining’ discussions. Small and constant steps of refining are more likely to keep someone ‘shining’. That said, do sit back and enjoy the glow and know that you are doing something wonderfully right to have staff members who are ‘shining’.

5.     Declining

Employee + Manager: ‘Declining’ is when things start going out of alignment. ‘Declining’ will be part of the natural ebb and flow and in many cases, if ‘refining’ is in place will be short lived. ‘Declining’ can be the result of not keeping up with the changes in our lives, in our relationships, families, passion, jobs and/or in our companies. We fail to consciously ‘refine’ our connection and integration. We are stuck in an old pattern that no longer serves us. Left unaddressed, we are likely to continue on a downward spiral. Regularly turning up late, leaving early and/or absenteeism can often be the first signs

Manager: When you observe behaviours and/or feel the energy of an employee ‘declining’, it may just be part of a natural rhythm. Most importantly continue your regular ‘one on ones’ with the aim that your  discussions will delve deeper to uncover the source of the decline. Together find a way to remedy, or at least improve, the situation. You may find that the employee has personal matters that are concerning them, they may have a skill challenge or challenges with other managers or staff. It could be that the employee has identified a new vision for their career or found a new purpose they want to pursue and are unsure how to move forward.

Whatever you do, do not ignore the situation, no matter how fabulous the employee has been. The longer you leave it to have a discussion, the harder it will be to address and the more likely the situation will escalate. As part of the Shine Model we have list of coaching questions and conversation guidelines that help a manager through these discussions.

Employee: By now you should be regularly ‘checking in’ with yourself and you should be aware that you are ‘declining’. This should not come as a surprise. Your energy and motivation continue to decline, your behaviours are changing – and not for the better! You need to apply very conscious effort and take responsibility for your actions and your alignment. After all, this is your life.

If you feel yourself declining, stop, reflect and ask yourself questions such as:

  • What am I wanting more of that I’m not getting?
  • Why am I feeling annoyed, anxious or angry?
  • What challenges am I facing that I don’t feel able to deal with?
  • Where do I need help or support?
  • Where am I compromising my boundaries?
  • Who do I feel I am letting down and why?

Based on your answers seek support or training and/or identify new actions you can take. Consciously ‘refine’ how you are connecting with your work, your work place and your personal life. If in doubt, talk to your manager, a trusted colleague, friend or coach and have them assist you in re ‘designing’ your work/life integration.

6.     Mining

Manager + Employee: The ‘mining’ stage kicks in when a majority of an employees energy has been withdrawn from work. They have become totally disengaged, possibly to the point of being disruptive. It is now time to dig deep to understand the cause of the disengagement. It should be noted that the state of ‘mining’ should not come as a surprise. We rarely go from hero to zero overnight.

Manager: You will know when an employee has reached ‘mining’. They may be disruptive, consistently rebellious and/or withdrawn.  There could be high absenteeism and low quality or concern for work. It is highly likely they will turn into ‘energy vampires’. You will feel it. The team will feel it. The process of ‘mining’ implies that a greater intervention and discussion is now required to uncover the cause of the current state, and to find a path forward. As part of the Shine Model, we discuss the importance of compliance with HR legislation and internal policies when considering actions to be taken, we also have list of coaching questions and conversation guidelines that help a manager through these discussions.

Employee: If you at this point you will know it. You may have got here due to personal challenges that have gradually affected your work/life integration and drained you emotionally and/or physically, you may have a whole new vision for your career or life and feel totally disconnected from work, or it could be that you simply no longer want to work for the organisation. If you find yourself here, you need to do some deep soul searching, some ‘mining’. Revisit the questions from ‘declining’, speak to your manager, a coach or trusted colleague and decide a path forward. Life is too short to stay in this state. It’s time for quantum leap.

7.     Resigning

No surprises with this one. It is time to leave.

Employee: It may be that you seek more than can be offered by the organisation or that your vision for your future has changed. This is a natural part of evolution and growth. So, if your energy has left the role and the organisation, then it is time for you to resign and seek your next role. Do not resign as a bargaining tool, take responsibility for your future and move on.  Reflect on what you have learnt in relation to work/life integration and go back to ‘aligning’ to give yourself the best possible start in your next role and the cycles starts again.

Manager: Have one last discussion with your employee to understand the real reason for leaving and use this information to help other employees to ‘shine’. Once an employee has resigned it is best not to negotiate with them to stay. If you wanted to keep this employee new approaches should have been uncovered in the refining, declining or mining stages.

The Wrap Up

The above has been a brief insight into the Shine Model™.

As with all things in nature, there will be an ebb and flow. Positive movement is this framweork is driven by increasing levels of personal awareness, business acumen, reflection, open and honest discussion and conscious action.

Downward spirals are driven by a lack of personal leadership and self responsibility, and an environment where the leaders and managers are not consciously connecting with their staff to guide and support them on this brave new and extremely rewarding journey.

Want to know more?

If you would like further information in relation to the model, or the tools and techniques referred to please get in touch.

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