At the Table with Jen

A Leadership Tip to Increase Engagement

 I’m a big fan of quotes and one from Fred Rogers, otherwise known as Mr. Rogers, comes to mind when I think of employee engagement:

“Whether we’re a preschooler or a young teen, a graduating college senior or a retired person, we human beings all want to know that we’re acceptable, that our being alive somehow makes a difference in the lives of others.”

Let’s take a few minutes and really let these words sink in.

It really doesn’t matter who we are, what we’ve accomplished, or what we have yet to do.

What matters is that we want to add value. And to take it a step further, we want to know that we have added value.

Now, adding value can look different for each one of us. It could be as simple as lending a helping hand or listening to a friend who needs a sounding board. It could be working with an important client and winning new business for your company or properly diagnosing an illness to enable someone to start feeling better.

So how might we actually know that we did add value?

Part of it is that internal sense of peace when you just know. And part of it can come from people.

Whether we work with volunteers or paid employees, when we tell someone very specifically how their contribution or character made a positive difference, we are letting the recipient know that he or she did add value. It’s important that this feedback is specific, timely, sincere and clearly connecting the contribution to the difference the individual made.

Why is this so important to do?

When people feel appreciated, they will do more than what’s expected. They will understand that you genuinely care, and they will continue to contribute. When this type of feedback comes from peers, it is encouraging and supportive. When this type of feedback comes from a leader, either formal like a boss or informal like an understood team lead, it can spark a new sense of enthusiasm for the job at hand.

So what’s the secret? It’s easy – tell them.

The single act of telling them shows that them that someone else was paying attention and cared enough say so. Think back to a compliment you received and it was specific, timely and sincere. Think back to how the person explained how your contribution mattered to them or the overall project. Think back to how you felt receiving it. Even if you were a little embarrassed, it probably felt good that someone noticed and told you.

Remember – people want to be accepted and know that they matter.

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