Are You Focusing On the Wrong Kind of Engagement?

The word “” commonly connotes some form of connection or interaction.  Gears are said to engage in a car’s transmission.  Opposing armies are said to engage on the battlefield.  In a business context, a leader holding a team meeting to kick off a process improvement project puts a check mark in the engagement column of her project plan, one that might also include a line item such as this: “Engage Facilities Dep’t. re: Room Set-Up.”

That there’s an engagement column on her project plan at all would seem to be a good thing.  After all, ample and compelling research now demonstrates a strong positive correlation between increased levels of employee engagement and dramatically better business results.

Here’s the problem, though.  The interaction/connection definition used in the examples in the first paragraph above is very different from the definition of engagement that informed all of that ample and compelling research.  That kind of engagement is defined as follows:  The extent to which an individual is moved to invest additional energy and effort in the tasks at hand.  

So the question becomes:  If you’re not focusing on the energy/effort definition of engagement upon which the research was based, how likely are you to achieve those dramatically better business results?

If a fuller discussion of this “definition gap” sounds intriguing to you, click here for an excerpt from my new book, Otherwise Engaged:  “Maybe We Need A New Word For Engagement”.