A Bold Question for Employee Engagement

Long before employee engagement became a management trend, one very effective leader (who prefers to remain anonymous) was asking employees and teams a bold question to understand and engage them.

A Bold Question for Employee Engagement -- Image by: Purpleslog

What’s in it for you?

By admitting a human truth, this question:

  1. Grabs attention.
  2. Provokes thought.
  3. Unearths motivation.
  4. Discovers the potential and uncovers the warts.

When used by a great leader, this question, starts the necessary discussion of balancing “I” and “we” and keeps this delicate balance on everyone’s radar.

This bold question sends a bleep every day asking employees to find something that motivates and engages themselves to contribute at their highest potential.

When used without connection to this delicate balance of “I” and “we”, it can spiral into a horrible case of entitlement and “me-itis — what will you, the leader, do to motivate me?”

The key difference:

Do you inspire employees to engage themselves?
Do you think employee engagement is primarily your job as the leader?

Leaders, who inspire employees to engage themselves deliver something very valuable to the organization —  unlimited possibilities from sustainable talent.

Even during critical changes in direction, these employees will still be thinking:

  1. Here’s what I bring to this new initiative and what I will get out of it to keep me going.
  2. How can I improve to contribute to the whole?
  3. How can I manage my extremes and best fit my strengths to the new order?

Employee engagement that creates an entitled workforce is a disaster you can avoid. Ask a bold question to inspire employees to engage themselves and keep the balance. The results are startling.

What type of responses do you think you will get to this bold question?

What would you learn about potential hires, current team members, and potential leaders from asking it? Please add your voice in the comments section below.

From our shared experience to mutual success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish, please email, info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers workshops, keynotes, and consultations that inspire change, action, and success. Leaders have been booking Kate for 21 years to inspire teamwork for business wins. See this site for customer results and book Kate now.

5 Responses to “A Bold Question for Employee Engagement”

  1. Tad Jackson says:

    … and the potential employees who would come to an interview having already pondered—or lived and worked—the answers to these questions are certainly the kind of people you’d want to work for you … or with you! Of course, these are questions we should ask ourselves about our daily lives as we interact with our friends and family, too. Thanks, Kate!


    • Kate Nasser says:

      YES Tad. This one question produces so many positives if used appropriately. What a team this can produce of new hires and existing team members.
      Best wishes and thanks as always for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Kate, you bring up a provocative angle to consider with the question “What’s in it for you”? The question I coach leaders to ask is “What part do you play in achieving the Vision of our company?” Perhaps this evokes the response less selfish and more selfless toward achieving the organizational goals. Regardless, you have hit upon the key target… making it personal for employees.

    I love employee engagement, one of my favorite topics. It still amazes me how few leaders truly embrace the concept, despite the stellar outcomes of a highly engaged workforce. Great Post!


  3. It’s tempting for people mired in day-to-day management to believe they can manipulate engagement like popularity polls or SEO rankings. Either people want to do a good job and take the actions to do so or they don’t. Most people bring that energy with them, but lose it in the stress of managing the gaps between desires, expectations and reality.

    When leadership helps reduce the gaps rather than simply leaving it to the employee, there is an energy that gets created that can often overcome many of the challenges. But over time, absent solutions, employees will either disengage or desert if the employer and the employee can’t reduce the desire, expectation and reality gaps. Agreeing in advance to work on that with your people is the first step for any employer.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Mike…

  4. David Zinger says:

    I responded to this a couple of years ago with this list.
    Here are 22 reasons why we as employees benefit from our own high caliber engagement:
    Our life and work will be richer and more fulfilling when we are engaged in our work.
    We will leave work each day with a stronger sense of satisfaction.
    Our engagement will achieve results that matters to us, our organization, and our clients.
    High levels of engagement is the fast train to career development.
    Our engagement will rub off on customers and clients and we will find that customers and clients are easier to work with.
    If we are parents, our engagement at work will offer a positive and constructive role model of work for our children.
    We prevent ourselves from becoming disengaged victims — seeing the company as the enemy, leaders as villains, and being unhappy with our lot in life.
    Engagement contributes to our authentic happiness at work.
    We engage differently in various tasks and projects and our maximum engagement will indicate the best type of work for us to do.
    We will learn our working strengths by finding those things that are easiest for us to engage with.
    Our work will be a robust expression of our service for others.
    We contribute to the economic value of the organization – the organization must remain viable for us to be valuable.
    Work is love made visible, when we engage fully in our work we express our passion and become more visible to all.
    Engagement is an authentic pathway to personal branding.
    Robust engagement more than fulfills our half of the employment contract.
    Our engagement will contribute to other employee’s engagement.
    We will have more fun at work when we are engaged.
    We tend to also be more engaged in things outside of work when we are fully engaged with work.
    We can carry on our engaged approach to work into retirement and not find a drop in satisfaction when we retire.
    Engagement makes us active agents in our own work.
    When we are fully engaged we are less likely to be afraid to challenge others and the organization to be their best.
    We can’t be bored if we are engaged and time will fly at work.

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