It’s About Energy, Not Engagement

Brady Wilson’s new book, “A Brain-Based Approach that Blends the Engagement Managers Want with the Energy Employees Need,” is a breath of fresh air to an engagement narrative that has become stale and stagnant.

Mention the word engagement and federal government employees just roll their eyes. It is an empty term devoid of meaning. It has acquired the same impact as forecasting the weather. Everyone talks about it but no one can do anything about it. Combined with the depleted motivational levels in the federal sector, the lack of intrinsic motivation, and subpar leadership, most feds are disappointed in the promise of engagement. It was a package of hope that was undelivered. It is essentially yesterday’s wine.

Kudos to Brady Wilson by not dropping the honorable aim of engagement but concentrating our efforts more on the energy levels we bring to the workplace by paying more attention to brain science.

Here are some of his suggestions:

Manage Energy, Not Engagement
Low energy employees lose focus, make poor decisions and become complacent. Managing energy rather than engagement rejuvenates the decision-making part of the brain.

It Is All About the Experience
Employees have pretty much figured out the engagement game was a bridge to nowhere, a promise by leaders that was never kept. By ensuring the delivery of great experiences in the workplace, leaders can energize their direct reports to be more productive.

Target the Heart, Not the Head
While the work is important, it is the relationships with our colleagues and customers that energize us. Wilson calls this the “feelings economy.”

Conversations Rather than Surveys
Kill the annual survey and start employing more direct and impactful conversations with employees. Discussions where employees feel heard stimulate hormones in the brain that make them more industrious.

Tension Not Harmony
While this sounds unnatural, Wilson suggests we should gravitate toward conflict. By standing in the breach between tradition and change, leaders build a workplace mindset that promotes innovation.

From Parent to Partner
Our brain perceives mutual responsibility as a threat. Oftentimes employees view this hazard as micro-management in the style of an overbearing parent which depletes autonomy, mastery and purpose. Seeing your leader as partner rather than a parent creates a relationship based on shared experience rather than solely on joint accountability.

Challenge Beliefs, Not Emotions
We all have the potential for greatness; it is our belief in that greatness that determines outcomes. Consequently, leaders must be constantly on the lookout for beliefs that negatively impact their organization’s ability to reach its full potential.

Wilson has set us on the path to engagement by redirecting our energy. Here’s hoping that our leaders will be the juice that pushes us to the top. With engagement levels at rock bottom, the only way left to go is up.

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