The Periodic Table of Engagement

In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist and inventor, gave the scientific world the “Periodic Table of Elements.” You might have been introduced to Mendeleev’s creation in 8th-grade chemistry class as simply the periodic table. Regardless of its label, it has been a staple tool in the fields of chemistry and physics that arranges chemical elements by their atomic number and periodic chemical properties.

Nearly 150 years later after Mendeleev’s contribution to science, Rusty Lindquist of BambooHR, a human resources software service, has created a periodic table for engagement that could be the impetus this beleaguered topic needs to deliver on the job satisfaction and happiness it has promised since William Kahn came up with the term in 1990.

Having a clear destination and cause and caring about it. Understanding where you are going.

Being assigned work that you can succeed at. Hitting the sweet spot of competency, opportunity and passion. Doing work that fits your talents.

Knowing the next steps and how to move forward. In other words, knowing what to do.

Having what you need to move forward. Being led by leaders who point you in the right direction and then get out of your way.

Getting things done and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Having an impact.

Being able to measure your progress and impact.

Having inertia and a sense of inevitability that you are moving forward in a meaningful way.

Having some skin in the game or something to lose.

Feeling like you are acquiring mastery and progress both professional and personal.

Finding fulfillment and purpose in what you do.

Being appreciated, valued and awarded for your efforts.

Knowing who you are and what you are capable of while believing in yourself. Avoiding functional fixedness bias that limits creativity and innovation. Mark Twain said it best: “The two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

Having someone who believes in you, challenges you and show you the path toward a brighter tomorrow.

Having connections with people you care about.

Working in surroundings that support and enable your efforts.

Finding restoration through balance and reconstruction.

Remember, it is not what you do in the workplace but who you are at work. The quicker we answer that question the faster we will reap the ever-elusive promise of engagement.

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