We were delighted to have Shawn Murphy, CEO of WorqIQ do a Webinar with us last week about “Creating an Unforgettable Experience of Work”, and we’re happy to share his insights.

Employee engagement isn’t something we become, it’s something we experience. So how do we make this happen?

First, let’s start with some important definitions to get us all on the same page:

An unforgettable experience of employee engagement at work generally constitutes nurturing Your Best Self at Work.

Your Best Self at Work – Your preferred self. You do your best work when you’re able to:

  1. apply your strengths,
  2. tap into talents,
  3. express enthusiasm, and
  4. connect with others.

Further, employees are often able to bring their best selves to work when the Climate and the Culture are at their optimal height.

Culture: How we do things, the values that we have that guide the things that we do, and the assumptions that we have about the people, the work, the purpose, and the beliefs.

Culture is an important concept, but the focus of this webinar is more specifically on Climate.

Climate: What it feels like to work somewhere. 70% of the work experience is shaped by its climate. Who shapes it, you ask? The employees’ immediate manager.

One of the biggest challenges and greatest incentives in the workplace is to cultivate an optimal climate for employees to bring their best selves to work and therefore have an unforgettable and engaging experience of work. There are three sources that improve engagement: Meaningfulness, Psychological Safety, & Energy.

 

 

I. Meaningfulness

While you can’t force employees to find or feel meaningfulness in their work, you can design the work to give it more meaningful depth. Shawn explains three predominant ways to do this:

  1. Increase Autonomy: Give people the flexibility to figure out how to do their work. Allow employees to be involved in decisions that impact them. This opportunity to give their input is an autonomous leadership outcome.
  2. Variety of Work: The more variety there is in the work, the less boring it becomes, which positively affects employees’ energy level, and therefore allows them to do higher quality work while enjoying it more.
  3. Mastery & Growth: This accounts for both professional and personal spheres. The more you can design the work to help people grow in their personal life, the easier it is for them to find meaning. E.g. bringing in a speaker series focusing on applicable topics such as finance managing, etc.
  4. Clarity

This consists of four sub-points,

  • Goals – both individual and company-wide.
  • Priorities – This can be the hardest to achieve since some organizations don’t even have their priorities down, let alone figuring out individual team priorities!
  • Expectations – Rob Catalano shares his concept of a team updating with “Top 5s” on a weekly basis to keep them all aligned.
  • Autonomy – What each employee specifically brings to an organization, and where they’re headed professionally.

Shawn goes on to discuss the best leadership tactics in order to cultivate a great climate for an unforgettable experience of work—when leaders make employees feel valued, wanted, and welcome.

Belonging – Feeling valued, wanted, and welcome. When you can be yourself you’re not worried about fitting in. You know what you’re bringing to the table is valued and wanted, and that you’re welcomed by your coworkers.

 

Shawn talks about the pros and cons of different leadership styles:

Three Leadership Styles that have an Adverse Influence on Motivation

  1. Directive – The “I order people around” mindset
  2. Visionary – Interestingly enough, visionaries can negatively influence motivation because often when you’re visionary, you bring in something new causing uncertainty/doubt/stress which in turns throws motivation out of flux.
  3. Pacesetting – Control freaks.

 

Three Leadership Styles that are Relationally Driven:

  1. Affiliating – Making sure employees all feel like they’re connecting as a team.
  2. Participative – Involving people in decisions.
  3. Coaching – Helping employees to become better people.

 

 

 

II. Psychological Safety

Psychological Safety – When it’s safe to share my ideas no matter how contrary/silly/creative it might be. I feel it’s okay and I’m not going to be ridiculed or thought less of or even ignored, (which could be worse).

How do we improve psychological safety within our teams?

Shawn shares that Harvard Business Review found the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities have ballooned by 50% or more in the last 2 decades, and in many companies, more than 3/4 of an employees’ day is spent communicating with colleagues.

This all goes to show that most of our work depends on other people to get it done, which is the growing trend, meaning we must create environments where people can work together and understand their differences as valuable rather than distancing. This is why psychological safety is so important.

Anthropology and sociology show us that we have some particular basic human needs, and when these needs are met, we’re able to get more value out of life.Your job as a manager is to get a sense of the current state of your team’s work environment—whether it’s toxic, stale, optimistic— and then use these pyramid elements to move it to be more positive.

Each part of the pyramid work towards improving the experience of work. No one size fits all, which makes engagement difficult, but thinking about how unique and different we are, it makes sense that there are many options. In order for these elements to be successful, remember the affiliative, participative and coaching leadership have best results.

 

 

III. Energy

Energy: The physical and emotional energy it takes to do work.

Use a tool like StrengthScope – helps people figure out which strengths energize them. No figuring out what your strengths are, but what energizes us. The more we can do work that energizes us, the higher our performance.

Practice solid work recovery practices. No emails after 6 pm. Flexible work schedules. Anti-workaholic policy seasons of life flexibility.

Check out InnerWill’s Igniter in order to identify and define personal values. 

As managers, when you’re able to you’re able to cultivate a climate that’s conducive to employee engagement, that’s when you’re able to generate an Unforgettable Experience of Work.

If you’d like to check out the recorded webinar, you can do so HERE