Be Thankful If You Have a Full-Participation Work Culture

by Bill Swift on November 19, 2018

in Employee Engagement

be thankful

It’s been said that “80% of success in life is just showing up.” But, in the world of work, we know it takes more than just clocking in to develop strong, effective, sustainable teams. Are your employees really showing up? Are they digging in with everything they’ve got?

Be thankful if they are! My consultant friends tell me that full-participation or fully-engaged workplaces are rare. If you don’t think you and your employees have reached this promised land, here are a few things to consider:

What does Really Showing Up look like?

At Cascade Employers Association we begin many of our training sessions with a review of the characteristics of the Engaged Employee to set up a target, the “ideal employee” discussion. Then we reflect on how these extraordinary employees work with passion, have a profound connection to the organization, drive innovation, are great stewards and give 100% of their discretionary effort.

You know, the people we all want more of. The people we wish we could be consistently ourselves. In the discussion we typically have supervisors point out that there are lots of employees who are clocking in, showing up, but not really bringing all of themselves. Leadership Engagement Essentials is one good example of a training session that addresses this specific topic.

Progressive workplaces want to develop and encourage the fully-engaged employee and the high functioning team. Much of our time in the workplace-development world is spent appropriately examining workplace cultures and policies that positively influence this engagement. The workplaces we see having more success in this endeavor are doing a few things to create culture and conversation that improve the chances their employees will want to bring all of themselves on a daily basis.

Do your employees:

  • Show up physically? Rested, stretched, exercised? All there? Feet firmly on the ground? Great workplaces encourage self-care and active lifestyle, creating positive peer pressure toward health.
  • Show up emotionally? Even bring their anger and sadness along with their joy and excitement? Great workplaces teach relational skills and open dialogue so employees feel a connection with their work team. Great workplaces also, while allowing employees to be honest, even vulnerable, call out negativity or selfish motivations.
  • Show up intellectually? Thinking all the time? Admitting, without shame, when they don’t understand something or when they are confused? Also admitting boldly when they see something or a process they can improve? Great workplaces create and maintain an atmosphere of appreciation for strengths and patience with weaknesses.
  • Show up socially? Can find their place, not out of conformity, but out of comfort and fit? Great workplaces are inclusive and focus on strengths and honor all social styles on the extrovert-introvert continuum.
  • Show up spiritually? With proper boundaries and without proselytizing? Great workplaces encourage the search for something larger than themselves.

The Gestalt Psychologists used to employ a technique called the “empty chair” in therapy sessions, designed to help their clients have a conversation with the disowned parts of themselves. We would never recommend this practice in the workplace. Perhaps you can see, however, what this might be like for your less-engaged employees who are missing something, almost as if ghostly limbs were disappearing or half of them was just not there.

What important and productive parts are employees leaving at home when they could be using them to leverage creative success in your workplace? Part of the solution is just asking good questions, paying attention to, acknowledging and celebrating the fully-engaged, making full-participation contagious.

Here’s to being truly thankful for your employees who are really BRINGING IT!

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