Engagement is linked to personal drivers and therefore requires employees to be considered individually when it comes to what motivates them (see Part 1 of this article). But this is probably the easy part. The real challenge for companies wanting engaged employees, lies in activating their appetite to think for themselves and pilot their career at crucial stages. How can you do that?
Belief n°2 : It all starts with one question
When was the last time you were asked meaningful questions about your career? The process of realizing ambitions or facing obstacles is propelled by questions. Questions drive your thinking. Whether they be simple, inspiring or fundamental, they free your creativity, allow you to be open minded, and drive you towards action.
What would make you happier professionally?
It is hard for employees to face fundamental questions when they are not used to it, and when there isn’t a dedicated space to articulate their thoughts. When given the chance to answer a first question though, it triggers the ownership process.
There are countless best practices that can all be offered through simple questions, each having a ‘super power’ as you read and answer it. Let’s consider the following questions for example:
“How would you explain your project to a 10-year-old?”
In addition to making you smile as you picture yourself in front of a kid, this question will naturally make you think of very simple words to explain your intention. Remove the noise and jargon. Target the core. As you write the answer, it all becomes clearer.
“When are you at your best?”
The super power of this question is to take you back to situations you felt strong, capable and confident. Writing about those times, describing how you felt, results you got, will get you straight to a solution mode.
“What is your next actionable step?”
By the time you read this simple question, your brain will automatically be in thinking mode, finding ways to break your project down. Writing down your chosen next achievable step makes you move forwards already.
We believe in the power of questions. One attribute of good leaders is to know the right questions to ask to instigate a powerful self-reflection, but supporting the journey towards being autonomous requires sustained guidance. It requires a space for employees to think, think about the way they will tackle their professional challenges. Finding the answers within themselves will make disengaged employees feel in control again and reconnect with their inner drivers.
A director of innovation in a global company asked us the other day:
“So you actually help people think?”. “Yes, we do”.
“Oh, that is a good thing. We should do that more”. “We believe so too.”