Sharlyn Lauby of HR Bartender recently published a white paper, ‘6 Way to Create an Engaged Workforce: How Employee Engagement Supports Company Innovation’. The main theme of Sharlyn’s paper is that in this current, fast-paced business world of constant change, where agility, flexibility and innovation are key to business success, employees must learn to be self-directed.
She goes on to discuss the ‘six principles of self-direction’ in detail, and shows why they are important for fostering engagement, and therefore improving business performance.
1. Know Yourself
Self-awareness, Sharlyn says, is the first step to successful self-direction. Each person should know their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ways of working that make them the most productive. It’s also important to get feedback from co-workers and team mates on how they perceive you, as it will improve your self-awareness and can have a great impact on your working relationships.
2. Do Meaningful Work
For employees to be fully engaged, it is ideal if they can establish a connection between themselves and their work through doing a job that they see as meaningful and significant. There are a few ways in which to ‘create meaning’ in one’s work – building relationships is just one example.
3. Be Part of the Solution
Employees want to feel that they are contributing to the overall picture in a significant way, by successfully solving problems and not simply redirecting the problem to an ‘external expert’ or boss. From a company perspective, it’s important to give employees training and access to resources that will allow them to be successful ‘experts’ and problem solvers in a self-directed manner.
4. Manage Conflict Productively
All parties within a company need to be able to identify where real counter-productive conflict exists and direct problem-solving skills toward resolving them, without the need for involvement from a boss or external party. This will be good for creating better awareness of both your co-workers opinions and your own, and will help contribute to better cohesion and success as a team.
5. Learn How to Learn
This may be ‘the most important self-direction behaviour’, simply because of the pace of change in our working environment, and the fact that employees often need to adapt to situations and learn new skills without being told exactly what to do first.
6. Manage to Change
In this point, Sharlyn emphasises why self-direction is important for both individuals and organisations to successfully move forward in our ever changing business environment:
As a final note, a quote from Sharlyn’s summary on why we need to cultivate self-direction in ourselves, and help employees to do the same:
Take the time to click over and read the full white paper here.