Monday, 6 August 2012

An Engaged Mind

Recently I read an article which highlighted CIPD's latest quarterly Employee Outlook survey. Astonishingly, it appears we have a nation of employees who are simply ‘not bothered’ about their work, with 58% of respondents reporting only ‘neutral’ levels of engagement with their job.

According to the article, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD, drew links between employee disengagement and recent high profile cases of “unethical behaviours and corrosive cultures overseen by senior leaders”, emphasising the importance of establishing positive working cultures from the top down. He went on to warn:
We know that strong employee engagement drives higher productivity and better business outcomes, so such a prominent display of ‘neutral engagement’ in the workplace should act as a real wake up call for employers.”

Within the realms of brand and management consulting, a lack of engagement is of great concern; it will have direct correlation to the levels of creativity, innovation and credibility delivered to the client. It is clearly evident that whilst employee engagement is frequently written about, it now needs to become a lifestyle choice of both people and organisations, to develop and maintain an engaged mind.

An engaged mind is developed holistically, through a healthy lifestyle. It incorporates physical, spiritual and mental well-being. It cannot simply be confined within the four walls of a place of work, it is curious, excited, receptive, engaged, tenacious. Most likely, someone with an engaged mind commits to lifelong learning, demonstrating intellectual curiosity, pursuing education, new activities, reading, learning new languages or developing new skills. In its most simple form, an engaged mind comes from understanding ones strengths and interests, and how this translates into being a valued contributor to relationships, both in and outside work.

With this in mind, the role of good leadership is to find the most appropriate and productive ways to stimulate employees in developing and cultivating their well-being. Providing an environment of authenticity – it is proven that employees who are themselves in the workplace are more effective. Those who are clear enough about what their organisation stands for and are at ease with the culture are more likely to bring themselves to work and to share stories about their family lives, hobbies, likes and dislikes. A simple concept to nurturing this is to encourage employees to try something new everyday, from travelling to work via a different route to trying new foods, attending lectures or trying a new social activity.

Beyond that, it is about recruiting with purpose – finding future talent who demonstrate these traits. Whilst it may not be the easiest paragraph in a job description, it will be clearly evident via experience, interests and most certainly on meeting. Engaged minds are obvious from the outset, a genuine smile and welcoming, inclusive attitude. They are receptive and confident, with an openess about sharing new activities or experiences, being able to listen actively and offer insights and challenge, largely because they care about the outcome.

Personally, two character traits stand out for the engaged individual – proactivity and energy. A proactive person will seek to understand their environment so they can make suggestions, take initiative, and innovate for the greater good. Their primary focus is on adding value. And they do so with high energy, setting the momentum, rather than it being defined. It will come of no surprise that a person with an engaged mind will inspire others, being the most effective brand ambassador with partners, investors, customers and employees.

My challenge for you today is to find your own, individual path to creating an engaged mind. 

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