Engaging Individuals at Work

In my previous post “Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority“, I highlighted the relationship between productivity and engagement, among other benefits.

In this post, I will share with you some tools and tips for engaging individuals. Stay tuned for posts in the near future about engaging teams, engaging the system, and engaging accountability.

As always, I want to give credit where it is due. This blog post is inspired by Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” (2015) about the art of facilitation and engagement. If you are interested in the tips and tools I share with you here, please check out his book.

How to Engage Individuals

First, acknowledge that engagement is a priority and disengagement is a problem. If you are not convinced of this, then read my blog post “Why Employee Engagement Should be a Priority“.

Second, identify behaviours that indicate disengagement. This will help you prioritize your time. Forbes Human Resource Council (2018) identified 12 signs that your employee is disengaged. Here are a few signs that may indicate disengagement:

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  1. Withdrawl. Disengaged employees tend to withdraw from activities, conversations, communities of practice, social gatherings, non-essential meetings and side-of-the-desk projects. They tend to do the minimum to get by, limiting their productivity.
  2. Poor Communication. Disengaged employees tend to limit their participation in meetings, debriefs, one-on-one’s, and sharing their feedback, opinions, ideas, or problems.
  3. Silence. Disengaged employees tend to not talk a lot in meetings, calls, one-on-one’s, performance reviews or just in general. This may be glaringly obvious if they started out talkative and positive but over time became less so. This is a sign of disempowerment also. Remember, relationships – possibily – action. If someone is not engaged, your possibilities diminish.
  4. Exhaustion, Cycnicism and Inefficiency. Disengaged employees may result from extended burnout. They may simply have lacked the tools to preserve their mental and physical well-being during periods of intense work-load, or lacked the support or soical structure to accommodate it.

Once you identified individuals who exhibit disengagement, prioritize them in your engagement efforts. So how do you engage individuals? Karlyn Borysenko (2019) at Forbes highlights four ways to engage employees.

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  1. Be Transparent. Do not give your employees half-truths, they will begin to recognize to take what you say with a grain of salt. Be honest if you identify a problem with engagement at your workplace, but also highlight any positives.
  2. Get Your Employees Involved. Have individuals commit to a few actions they can take to improve engagement at the workplace.
  3. Check in with People. Talk to individuals, get their feedback and dont be a stranger.
  4. Create Measures for Continuous Improvement. You want to have a culture of engagement, which may take a continuous effort that needs monitoring.

So the above are all good general measures, or tips for engaging employees. However, there are engagement tools you should place in your toolbox to get results. Bob Chartier’s “Handcrafted Leadership” provides several tools to help you engage individuals.

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  1. The One-On-One Conversation. This tool gives disengaged employees your time, letting them know that you are interested in them. As noted in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, let them do most of the talking, practice active listening, and give encouragement. Find out things about them such as what is going on in their life, remember their wife and kids names, find out their hobibies and their interests. Use this information to let them know that you are genuinely interested in them in your one-on-one’s. Create a personal-confidential profile for each emploeyee if you need help remembering facts about them.
  2. Reward Good Behaviour. Remember BF Skinners seminal work in psychology on rewards and punishment. Behaviours change more effectively and efficiently when rewarding good behaviours, rather than punishing bad behaviours. So spend your energy rations on rewarding good behaviour. You will find it less emotionally draining and it will result in a more positive environment.
  3. The Feedback Tool. Remember that employees crave feedback. If you are a manager or a supervisor, then remember to regularly give feedback. It lets the person know that their work is acknowledged. But prior to giving feedback, let them give themselves feedback first. They may criticize their own work for you, allowing you to focus on more positives. Then you can acknowledge their their self-awareness and give them advice or encouragement for improvement.
  4. 12-Minute Tool. Set aside 12 minutes every day at a designated consistent time to have conversations with employees that need to be re-engaged. Go to the coffee room or other visible space and encourage conversations with those that need it most. This time should be spent asking the employees what they are working on, challenges they are facing or successes they had.


These are just a few tips and tools for engaging individuals in the workplace. If you are interested in engaging teams, the system and accountability, then stay tuned!

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my post. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe, give it a like, or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

I found the material here interesting. However, I would be much more interested to hear your thoughts, opinions, ideas, questions or criticisms. If you would like to share, please do so in the comment section below. I promise to read all comments you post here.

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