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Why Does Employee Engagement Require a Democracy?
By David Harder on October, 29, 2019

Why Does Employee Engagement Require a Democracy?

One of the fundamental reasons that employee engagement is so elusive is that we are not teaching people how to change. The underemployed and disengaged workers believe they can’t change. Others want to change but don’t know-how. As we leave behaviors from the Industrial Revolution far behind us, let’s at least accept that the very skills that help us change were also the very things many of us were told not to do.


These skills include:


  • Drawing Healthy Attention to Oneself and Giving the Same to Others
  • Becoming a Skilled and Enthusiastic Active Learner
  • The Ability to Ask for the Right Kind of Help
  • Practicing Regular Self-Assessment and Self-Inquiry
  • The Ability to Recognize and Step Out of “The Trance”


In essence, I’m proposing that as the workplace speeds up, the necessity to fluidly and harmoniously connect with others. Many of us have complicated histories with attention. Some grew up in circumstances where attention was physically and emotionally violent. The majority of us come from average families where everyone communicated for 7 minutes a day, with half of that time devoted to correcting and arguing. The same family goes on to watch Television 4 hours a day, plus screen time with personal devices averaging 3 hours a day. In such environments, how is anything getting done? Certainly, we are not teaching children how to pursue rather than run from attention.


The vast majority of educational institutions don’t teach the skills of connectivity. So, if we are not getting them at home, how will we develop meaningful connectivity?


Making sure that our talent has connectivity is one of the single most time-saving and financially valuable ways to build an engaged workforce.


How does daily learning impact today’s workers? Many companies will only hire active learners. The candidates bring intelligence to their employers, they usually don’t get laid off, and they are far more promotable.


So what is this nasty-sounding characteristic, “The Trance?”


As humans, all of us fall into a trance. Sometimes, it is brought about by repetitive and mind-numbing work. For many of the underemployed, the trance occurs because they are preoccupied with fear. Cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, and resignation actively protect trances. If you have any doubts that the trance has become a huge deal, count the number of times you have to get out of someone’s way because they are not looking where they are going. Pay attention to the cashiers and packers. How many of them make eye contact? Drive through the City of Los Angeles! Every other “car” is a 6,000-pound sport-utility. The person at the wheel is working on the cell phone and barking orders to the kids. These are the individuals that become so mindless in how they use devices; they get sucked their screens and disappear.


Yesterday, my article on engagement and leadership was published. Here is the link:


In it, I pointed out that it simply isn’t worth the irritation to implement any engagement program if the CEO or business owner doesn’t lead the culture. How can we possibly produce engaged talent if the CEO isn’t engaged?


Pressing mid-managers to get more productivity out of their workers isn’t engagement; it is simply trying to frighten people into working harder.


Engagement only works as a democratic process, where everyone is involved in learning to become engaged, not only with their roles in an organization but also engaged with their careers. The most engaged cultures that I work with center much of their talent strategy on growing workers. When someone gets a promotion, the most common question is, “Where do you want to grow after this?”


The purpose of democracy is to make everyone relevant. For example, how can an organization produce engagement if the $3million development budget is set aside for the high-potentials? When we allocate funds, giving equal treatment to everyone is one of the most important steps towards developing an awakened and enthusiastic culture.


Wouldn’t you want to work there?


Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.


Schedule 15-Minutes to Discuss Your Workplace or Career with David (Here)


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