Is “fully engaged” enough? Is it truly the apex of employee satisfaction? Many organizations measure aspects of employee engagement in an effort to impact their bottom line. It’s usually captured through a 3-5-point Likert scale questioning employees on their thoughts relative to the work, their management and their organization with ratings ranging from “this pretty much sucks” to “I’m feeling awesome!”
What if we could actually capture a measure that lies beyond engagement —the moments spent working in the FLOW where we are fully immersed and engaged in the work we are doing?
Going with the flow
Think about those times outside of work when you were doing something so enjoyable, so challenging yet required great focus and concentration. Maybe you slip into your state of flow when you’re running, enjoying a favorite hobby, or reading. For me, it’s kayaking,
Scenario 1: Employees from a large, cross-functional team were invited to participate in a self-assessment tool to help them identify and further develop their natural strengths. The groups’ “top strengths” were then plotted on a comparative report, which generated great discussion among the team. Individuals could choose to share more about their results, but were not required to do so. There was constructive dialogue among the group that led to an increased understanding of the teams’ strengths, while personal boundaries were respected.
Scenario 2: A senior leader was looking for greater insight to help him assess and improve his leadership effectiveness with his team, his manager, and his colleagues. A 360-degree assessment tool was selected, the leader and his boss identified and agreed upon those who would provide feedback, and the instrument was launched with clear participant instructions for completion. Early on, it was made clear to everyone involved that the feedback would remain private to the leader only. What participants were provided was the leader’s resulting action plan detailing his developmental goals based on the feedback he’d received.
Scenario 3: Several individuals, both internal employees and external candidates, were vying for a plum executive level leadership role in the organization. As part of the selection process, final candidates were asked to complete an assessment of leadership potential, the results of which would be shared among the selection team as one aspect of the candidates’ professional profile. The scored results and comments were not shared with the candidates or feedback participants; rather, customized development guides were provided to each candidate based on their collective feedback.
Clarity is the Key
Regardless of the type of assessment or delivery mechanism, the most successful employee assessment processes are introduced to employees with clarity and transparent communication to address the issue of ownership and visibility before any tools are launched. Without clear guidance and direction setting up front, employees may come to view assessments as a stealth mission intended to underscore or document performance improvement needs, disciplinary actions or stack ranking for workforce reductions. No one likes surprises, and misguided or misinterpreted outcomes will only leave people feeling dissatisfied with the process and cynical of assessment opportunities in the future. Lack of transparency hinders the organization’s ability to create a feedback-rich culture.
No one wants that, especially organizations banking on growth through talent development investments.
For years, I’ve kept a bucket list — a collection of experiences that I hope to check off before it’s “too late.” Some of the items are fairly inconsequential . . . mastering a Rubik's Cube like the 6th grader I met at a recent NHL hockey game. His fingers were a blur as he spun that block like a boss in less than a minute. One handed.
Other entries on my bucket list are more significant (and potentially life-altering) undertakings. I checked one of these items off years ago when I finally worked up the courage to skydive for the first time. This was no chaperoned tandem event. It was just me, standing alone on the narrow jump platform of the Cessna 206, white knuckled as I hung on and listened for the jump master’s commands over the roar of the engine. There I was, ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. With the thumbs-up signal from the jump master, I took a deep breath to steady my adrenaline-soaked nerves, and then let go.
It was the scariest, riskiest, most exhilarating thing I had ever done. I was hooked, so I booked another jump, then another. With each subsequent jump, my confidence increased as my fears subsided (although not entirely, what fun would that be?). I achieved a dream by letting go.
Now I’m ready for another big leap, but this time, my feet are planted on the ground. I’m crossing another item off from my bucket list as I step off the corporate platform, pull the ripcord on a predictable paycheck and join the roughly 16 million professionals who have leapt before me into the independent worker economy. The feelings are similar to those of my skydiving experience — scary as hell, exhilarating, and filled with excitement for what lies ahead.
So how about you? Have you ever dreamed of jumping out on your own, leaving the comfort of your corporate gig to strategically pursue the work you love on your own terms? You certainly wouldn't be alone. By some estimates, up to 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers by 2020. And with new technology platforms, mobile apps and co-working locations, self-employment no longer means isolation or disconnection.
Whether you’re thinking of launching from a cockpit or a company, here are three considerations that are critical to a successful landing:
With the launch of THRIO Consulting, LLC, I’m pleased that I can finally place a check mark on my bucket list next to “start my own independent consulting practice.” What's on your bucket list? If you need inspiration or encouragement to pursue your passions, let's connect. My goal is to help people and organizations realize their potential. Drop me a note and let's tackle some challenges together.