Working in the 17% Zone: 6 Big Keys to Getting and Keeping Engaged Team Members

The Gallup Organization did a study on how people feel about their job. The results:

17% felt they were actively engaged in their work.

54% were disengaged in their work.

29% actually felt actively disengaged.

How do you, as a leader in your organization, get people into the 17% zone and keep them there? Here are six big keys...


1. Encourage up. People have a basic need for reward. This reward doesn't have to always be pay or gifts or awards. Many times it is just simple encouragement. This positive interaction is especially important between a boss and a team member. The health of this relationship is the strongest factor in determining an employee's job satisfaction.

2. Target down. Identify what "a good job" means. People need loops in their life. This means they need to shoot for something, accomplish it and be given something new to strive for. Sometimes the "target" needs to be artificially manufactured, but as long as the work involved is substantial and meaningful, engagement will follow.

3. Strengthen in. Do you know what gets your team members excited both in the office and out? When you learn what naturally stimulates a person, you can help them do those things more often - even if they aren't work related.

4. Weaken out. When you ask a team member to do a task that engages one of their weaknesses, this actually weakens their ability to do other tasks. It takes time to massage the work flow around weaknesses, but it is a task worth pursuing.

5. Make it sharp. The sharper the axe, the better the cut and the easier the work. This principle works in the world of work, as well as the world of tree-cutting. Create, encourage and support (but don't mandate unless for licensing purposes) professional development opportunities. People desire accomplishment and for thousands of adults, their development path at work is their primary success outlet.

6. Rock the gap. People have a need for inspiration, even the cynical. In the world of employee engagement, this inspiration can come from seeing the gap between an average performance and an amazing performance and then being put in an environment that coaches and encourages an amazing performance from everyone - top to bottom.

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