DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH ENGAGED EMPLOYEES
Everyone has likely had some experience with a customer service representative who was engaged and, unfortunately, with at least one who was disengaged. Reflect on those experiences as you create a post in which you respond to the following questions:
1. Without naming the company, Describe a time when you interacted with an ENGAGED employee. When you interacted with an engaged customer service representative.
2. Without naming the company, Describe a time when you interacted with a DISENGAGED employee. When you interacted with a disengaged customer service representative,
Satisfaction and commitment are not what drive sustained organizational performance; rather, it is employee engagement that really makes the difference. “Engagement” is not just another popular buzzword; it is critical for business professionals to develop a nuanced understanding of what engagement is and how it can be fostered through effective management strategies.
In this module, you will define “engagement” and determine how it manifests in observable behavior. You will identify how engagement predicts performance. You will explore what engagement looks and feels like through conducting a self-assessment. You will hear from Professor Nishii on the research behind the business case for improving engagement. You will distinguish between engagement and employee attitudes such as organizational satisfaction, commitment, and pride. You will have an opportunity to participate in a discussion on observed behaviors related to engagement versus disengagement, and you will review data related to engagement.
Note to learners: A brief interview (5 to 10 minutes) with an effective leader will be a required component of this course; you may want to schedule that interview now.
Okay, let’s begin by talking about what engagement looks like. People who are engaged are totally absorbed in their work, And they experience what some people call flow, and they’re very, very mindful about the work that they do. They invest their head, their heart, and their hands, their physical energy into their work. And the idea is that people who are engaged personally value and identify with the work that they’re doing. And because their work conditions help them to feel safe about pouring themselves into their work and help motivate them to do that, they say things like, I’m so passionate about my work that it doesn’t feel like work. Engagement is something that you can see in people. It’s visible to the outside. It’s visible in the form of high levels of effort, and involvement, and mindfulness. High levels of intrinsic motivation. You know when someone is really engaged and they’re really into their work, you can see it very, very clearly. They tend to be very difficult to distract. They tend to take initiative to make sure that things go well because they really care that things go well. And they clearly feel energized by their work. They derive energy from the work that they do. And they don’t easily get discouraged by obstacles. And, in fact, obstacles seem to make them work harder towards achieving their goals.
What the Research Says About Engagement
Engagement refers to purpose, focused energy, and flow.
Engaged people pore over their work.
Engagement is clearly distinguished from workaholism.
What does engagement really mean? Let’s look at what some of the research has to say. It refers to “an individual’s sense of purpose and focused energy, evident to others in the display of personal initiative, adaptability, effort, and persistence directed toward organizational goals” (Macey, Schneider, Barbera & Young, 2009).
Engagement refers to “the employment and expression of a person’s preferred self… people who are engaged keep their selves within a role, without sacrificing one for the other” (Kahn, 1990, p.700). The premise is that engaged people pour their personal cognitive, physical, and emotional energies into their work, as manifested in effort, involvement, flow, mindfulness, and intrinsic motivation. When people are engaged, they bring their real identity, thoughts, and feelings to bear on their work, such that their true self and their work role merge. Such people drive their true self into their roles, and their true self gets expressed within their role. In other words, a job is not just a job but is an authentic extension of one’s self.
· The investment of physical energy translates into an increased display of organizationally valued behaviors.
· The investment of cognitive energy promotes behavior that is more focused and mindful.
· The investment of emotional energy promotes increased connections with coworkers and greater authenticity at work.
When people are fully engaged in their work, you can see it clearly in their behavior. They tend to be very focused and difficult to distract (because they want to be doing what they’re doing), they take lots of initiative to make sure things go well because they genuinely care, they dedicate a lot of energy to their work without it feeling like a burden, and they persist even in the face of obstacles; again because their work is an important part of their identity and self-expression.
It is important to distinguish engagement from workaholism, or working excessively and compulsively. Research suggests that the more engaged employees are, the harder they work, the better they feel, and the better they perform. Although workaholism is also related to working hard and performing well, it is additionally associated with poor well-being (Schaufeli, Taris & Bakker, 2006).
It’s important to know what disengagement looks like. People who are disengaged are not vigilant about quality. They tend to be satisfied with “good enough.” They are also much less likely to innovate. When people withdraw, they remove personal energies. You can see this when people become robotic in their work, are apathetic or detached, and are burned out or effortless. When people disengage and become defensive, they hide their true identity, thoughts, and feelings; people go through the motions of work but do not give of themselves in their work. They are driven more by what they have to do than by what they want to do, as Professor Nishii explains.
Okay, now let’s examine disengagement. Disengagement is when people withdraw from their work physically, cognitively, and emotionally. And like engagement, disengagement is also easy to spot. People tend to become robotic, they tend to become apathetic or detached from their work, and they seem burnt out and somewhat effortless as they go about their work. And disengaged individuals tend to hide their true identity, thoughts, and feelings. Having disengaged employees is problematic for organizations because disengaged employees tend to go through the motions of work because they have to, not because they want to. And as a result, they’re not vigilant about the quality of their work, and they’re satisfied with good enough. And they also often fail to develop close and meaningful relationships with their co-workers. And they’re highly unlikely to innovate in their jobs.
I think we’ve probably all had experiences with customer service representatives, right? Some who are very engaged and extremely helpful, and go out of their way, clearly go out of their way, to help us to feel satisfied, right? To fix a problem. And then we’ve also, I think, all had experiences with the customer service agent who is disengaged and who seems annoyed that we’re asking for help, even though it’s their job. And we can be pretty sure that they’re not really trying all that hard to try to help us fix our problem. And so, like engagement, disengagement is visible to the people around.
The Checklist of Behaviors Indicating Disengagement
Download the Tool
Use this helpful Checklist of Behaviors Indicating DisengagementLinks to an external site. to identify whether disengagement behaviors are present
Use this checklist to identify signs of disengagement within a work group. You may choose to use this as a self-reflection activity (assessing yourself and your own behavior) or as a tool to assess the behaviors of an individual direct report or members of a particular work group. The goal of this exercise is not to criticize or find fault with people’s behavior but to deepen your understanding of the behaviors that indicate disengagement. It will also help you develop hypotheses about why people may have become disengaged, as well as what influential strategies you might recommend for line managers to improve people’s level of engagement.
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