Let me illustrate through the use of a youth soccer team. Coach Lou has many of the characteristics one wants their young son or daughter to be exposed to when playing sports. He’s genuine, cares about each of his players, listens well, uses positive reinforcement, is consistent, teaches through hands on interaction, and addresses issues promptly when they come up. Values like teamwork, continuous improvement, and good sportsmanship are emphasized and modeled by the coach.
Now, let’s focus on two of his players this year – Chloe and Allie. Both are about the same in physical stature and skill level but their attitude and subsequent behaviors are very different. One is very ‘engaged’ and one is not. Here’s a quick summary of some key attitudes and behaviors:
Always at practice and on time Misses practices and usually late
Offers to help other teammates Expects everyone to help her
Puts in extra effort & helps with equipment Does the basics - first in line for snacks
Practices drills at home Busy with other things
Cheers for team when not in game Focuses on other things when not in game
Proudly wears jersey Takes jersey off right after the game
Does not grumble, if she doesn’t play Complains about coach & other players constantly
Encourages others to join team Says she will be looking for new team
The two youth soccer players above have the same physical environment to play in – same equipment - same coach – same teammates – same rules of the game. But Chloe ‘chose’ to be engaged and Allie did not! It is reflected in their attitude and behaviors. Which player would you like to have as a teammate? Which player would you rather coach? Which player would have the biggest positive impact on the team’s performance?
So, as you refine your engagement strategy to achieve and sustain high performance, please consider the following:
- Have we provided clarity on what engaged and disengaged behavior (leaders and employees) looks like in our organization? Have you set expectations?
- Do we help employees understand what’s in it for them (WIIFM) when they are engaged?
- Do we reinforce engaged behavior and pro-actively coach and address disengaged behaviors?