Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author, former CEO, speaker, and a blogger. His newest book is Employee Engagement for Everyone.
Kevin, thanks for talking with me about your new work. Previously, you’ve written for companies and managers. Your latest book is aimed at everyone who wants to be happier at work.
What is “engagement” and why should anyone care?
Engagement is similar to being happy at work, but it’s a little deeper. Engagement is the emotional commitment someone has to their organization and the organization’s objectives. When we care more, we give more discretionary effort. Whether we are in sales, service, manufacturing or leadership, we will give more, the more engaged we are. Not only is this good for a company’s bottom line, but when we are engaged at work, we also end up being a better spouse and parent, and we have improved health outcomes.
How is communication connected to engagement?
Communication is one of the top drivers of engagement. It is sort of the “backbone” that runs through the other primary drivers of Growth, Recognition and Trust.
What are your top three tips for improving communication?
As individuals we have to shake off our victim mentality; if we aren’t happy with communication at work, we should take ownership for making it better. You should approach your supervisor and ask for a meeting to discuss the matter. Explore areas including what should get communicated, the timing of communication, the channel used, and who should be included in different communications.
In your work with corporate leaders, what are the biggest impediments to creating an engaged culture?
The biggest impediment is the senior leaders themselves. Either they don’t truly get why engagement is important, or they think it’s important but think the answer lies in corporate-driven initiatives like casual Fridays or a summer picnic. Instead, they need to realize that most of engagement comes from one’s relationship with his or her boss. It has to be a grassroots effort driven at the front lines.
You speak to many corporate audiences. How do you recognize an engaged corporate culture?
That’s easy. People who are engaged use the word “we” a lot. In fact, that was the title of my first book on the subject of engagement.
What advice would you give to someone who is stuck in a rut, wants to be engaged, but just doesn’t seem to be able to make it happen?
We all have bad days or tough times at work, but if you truly want to be engaged and aren’t, make sure you understand what your personal engagement triggers are. You can use a free online profile at www.MyEngagementStyle.com to find out what your own motivational triggers are. Then partner with your boss to make sure you are both creating a team culture that fosters engagement. If you still can’t make headway then maybe you need to find a new boss or a new company to work for.
What are you reading? Who influenced your thinking along the way?
I read over a hundred books a year plus countless magazines, journals, and blogs not to mention podcasts. Lately I’ve been learning a lot from Foreign Affairs and Naval War College Review. In addition, I feel that using Twitter and subscribing to blog posts are great ways to learn more and to stay informed on the latest research and thinking in the area of employee engagement. In my book, I share the 101 top engagement experts that I follow online and encourage everyone to follow as well to deepen their understanding of motivation, engagement, and happiness at work.
Thank you, Kevin. And I’m honored to be part of that list.