Seeing the Secret of Engagement
Successful leaders define meaning and explain purpose.
There are no menial tasks as long as tasks have meaning.
My recent stay (11/11) at Susquehanna Health (SH) exposed me to an array of remarkable people; not the least of which was Karen from food services. She reminded me of the power of meaning.
Delinquency and opportunity:
I usually didn’t fill out my meal menu in a timely manner which required someone from food services to stop in and fill it out. Typically a young person stopped in. But one day Karen, a not so young person with pen and menu in hand, arrived.
A million dollar moment:
Any exchange with me borders on an interview. In typical fashion I asked her how long she had been in food services, etc. The million dollar moment arrived when I asked what she enjoyed about her job.
“Food makes people happy,” she said.
Purpose and engagement:
Casual observers think Karen fills out menus and delivers food. But she doesn’t. She’s in the happiness business.
Success always includes making someone happy.
Karen is a rock star in my book. SH is lucky to have her on their team.
Purpose is the secret of engagement.
I wonder if her organization knows what makes Karen tick. If they do, they can fuel her fire, enrich her satisfaction, and retain her remarkable services.
Purpose and motivation:
Which statement best motivates Karen?
Thank you for delivering food in a timely, efficient manner.
Thank you for bringing a moment of happiness to people experiencing the trying days of a stay in the hospital, you make a difference.
What could someone say to you that affirms the meaning and purpose you embrace?
A former boss once said to me: “Thank you for everything you do – I never have to worry about you or the quality you will deliver.” Observing and taking the time to deliver meaningful positive feedback goes a long way. Great to hear from you again and Godspeed on the recovery!
Thanks for sharing your story and your encouraging words.
I’m still using the hunt and peck typing method. My health improves everyday. It will be several months till I’m back to normal.
Hi, Dan. I hope this means you are now out of hospital and continuing to recover at home. You’re in our thoughts.
Your post makes me think of what I’ve heard from some people, that working for a not-for-profit must be so rewarding. I actually think pretty much everyone in every type of job has the opportunity to make a difference, be it in the lives of their co-workers, bosses, clients, customers, patients, community, etc. Every single person impacts others and the ripple effect of that impact can’t be measured. In your example, Karen has a positive impact on you, and perhaps you then translate that into a positive interaction with other hospital staff, or your family, or other patients around you (although I assume your interactions are exceptionally positive anyways, but it’s just an example (-: ). People have so much power; it’s humbling, challenging and uplifting all at the same time.
All the best to you as you continue to lead.
Amazingly, Dan, it just happened today.
A longstanding patient stopped while I was setting up for a procedure and said, “I know no one realy wants to come in here, but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you. I appreciate that you actually take the time to talk to me and listen to what I am saying, you explain what you are doing, you don’t always make me get undressed before you talk to me, the warm instruments, everything. When my friends talk to me about their visits, I just think Ughhh! So, I just wanted to tell you that today. That I appreciate all the little things you do to make this better.” 🙂
“Thank you!”-with enthusiasm, focused in the shared moment works wonders for me.
Be it a one-on-one coaching, a learning opportunity, constructive critique, a kudo, handwritten note, all can affirm. That ‘thank you’ can be the outline of a mutuality painting that we are creating.
Of course, filling in the sketch is great too, adding color and verve. Why the thanks are coming my way deepen the hue. How that person may ‘pay it forward’ to others may add a light touch of legacy. And that time/space perspective can be magical too. Having someone thank you weeks, months, even years after an interaction is so powerful and perhaps most affirming.
Boy, what a difference, Dan. You illustrate how taking the time to understand the people around you can make a huge difference in how you interact with and motivate them. Thanks for sharing.
As Edward Hallowell pointed out in a recent HBR article on employee engagement, the real winner in a story like this is Karen herself. Hallowell says (and I agree) that being engaged with the work, with the customer or patient, and with coworkers is the number one antidote to anxiety and depression, and to under-achieving one’s own personal and professional goals.
Thanks for sharing this, Dan, and for all that you do. And best wishes for a miraculously fast recovery 🙂
Right, right, right, right, right!!
Our senior management group is committed to re-energizing our corporate culture of valuing and affirming people. As a third-generation family owned business, we’ve always been pretty good at it, but our owners gave us the charge to make sure every employee worth keeping feels valued. The first challenge: Make sure every employee gets to hear how life is better for someone they see every day because of the job they do.
Please tell me you have a book I can purchase.
What could someone say to you that affirms the meaning and purpose you embrace?
A) It’s fantastic to see a post from LeadershipFreak in my inbox!!!
B) That question you asked is a lot harder than it sounds on the surface!! I guess if I put it in the context of work, what means the most is when someone 1) verbally reinforces the fact that I am considered part of the team (and I don’t really mean formally – it’s in the day-to-day interactions that it makes a difference) and 2) verbally recognizes how much I love the cause (assuming I do). I would also add that it is often what is not said – not taking the time to say ANYTHING affirmative – that speaks the loudest.
Every second Thursday of the month, at a specific time (9:30 PM CST, shift according to your time zone), Healers around the world gather in a space called ‘Ether’ – where all things gather. We place our attention on healing; clients, family, friends, ourselves, etc – this is not a prayer session, though I imagine some Healers look at it that way – by holding them and their issues in Light and Vibrational Energy. It can have some very powerful effects. I will keep you and your healing in that space.
If you understand the Laws of the Universe set for by One Source (God, for me), then you understand that this can be so. We are all immersed in Substance where all things are created. That’s why thoughts become things. (Empaths feel the energy before it becomes a thought.) The thing about Substance is that when focus continues in that thought, it creates it. If it is with Positive energy, it creates positive, if it is with Negative energy, it creates negative. Like attracts like. It is thought, and only thought that can create and connect us to Substance. The same thing created all you look at, above and below. Our problem stems from us not being able to hold the positive thought – negative shows up with past experiences, or someone’s negative words, that keep telling us it can’t happen. God/One Source doesn’t have that problem; therefore, He can create planets and keep them spiraling in space. Energy is constant motion – unless something is blocking it. Napolean Hill and Wallace Wattles speak of this in their books about getting rich. It can be applied to anything.
Karen is focused on creating happiness. The Law of Attraction will recognize that and bring it to her and those she touches. All can take the torch and pay it forward. Desiderata speaks of all having something important to say. No job is too menial, as they all play a part in making things work. ‘The meek shall inherit the Earth.’ By the same token, no job is too great that we should place anyone on a pedestial. It is a delicate balance, isn’t it.
For me, it is as simple as this: “Wow, that’s a great question”. Whenever I am able to surface a question that brings others to pause, and not have an answer right away, then I feel like I have contributed to their self-development and they contribute to mine by helping me to always be truly listening.
So glad to see your posts, Dan. Life goes on. Welcome back and Happy Holidays
I am happy to see post after long time. I trust you are well.
Some could say that I am doing best to achieve my goal and purpose of my life. Perhaps that could feel me happy. If someone could read my purpose and actions, support it with a words of encouragement, then it could inspire and strengthen me to work harder to achieve my purpose.
I absolutely agree that leaders should define purpose and meaning for their leadership. It could be for self or for others. People should sense and feel the meaning of effort. they should see the direction and over and above, they should put their possible effort to achieve that purpose or common goal.
Leadership is not about skill, it is about curiosity. It means leaders should be curious and should generate curiosity in others. If they can generate curiosity in others towards their objective, then they are successful. Otherwise, they are not successful.
A genuine appreciation and a quick acknowledgement of good work/efforts inspire me to put in more and get better committed. Engagement is a direct act of work satisfaction what we get with empowerment and freedom in operations.
One thing what I have learnt is that be human and natural once you go up in exceutive ladder of success. People do reciprocate once you demonstrate your good traits. The human touch and good treatment with respect can bring in the desired results if done by way of a regular habit. Such things will also shape one’s character which will be the backbone of an individual/organization success.
Dan, now I understand the gap. Hope you are well. This is such an important topic. Some think of engagement as this mystical thing that is difficult to achieve. As you share, beautifully, it’s not complex, just difficult.
I try to remember five key questions about other’s experience.
Sorry, must have had a hiccup in cyber land. Anyway, the five surround:
2. Clarity around role, expectations
5. Meaningful work
I find that by understanding my behavior in helping them fit, be clear, be supported, and feel valued that “mystical and magical” things often happens with their engagement. Thanks for supplying this post.
Oh…and a heart of gratitude helps us see and interact in the world in far different ways.
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