Why people have to be MAD to engage!
Where now for employee engagement?

Care to engage

Who Cares WinsWho cares wins!

I don't know what David Stirling or the SAS would think of that misstatement of their motto "Who dares wins!" But I am sure you will agree it is equally true. Possibly even more true.

Be that as it may, I don't wish to start a debate on that score here. Rather I just wanted to share an insight that was inspired by simply changing a single letter in a well-known, well-respected and well liked phrase. This can be a wonderful way to create new ideas and to start thinking on different lines. It certainly did that for me on this occasion.

As I thought about the word 'care' I was suddenly struck by its similarity to 'career'. Of course, it was a natural step from there to see career as a two syllable word 'care-er' and start looking at it more closely from an employee engagement perspective. And as I did, I thought about David McLeod and Nina Clarke's Employee Engagement Task Force.

In their first report they said that they gave up trying to define employee engagement after being presented with 56 perfectly acceptable definitions. As a result they distilled it down to what they call a single recurring theme: "Getting people to offer more of their capability and potential willingly." Now you can put that another way and simply say that employee engagement is simply about getting people to care. Thus:-

"Employee Engagement means putting the care back in career." 

I really liked that concept, and began to wonder whether there was a valid etymological case for linking the words care and career in this way. Unfortunately it appears that the connection is loose at best. According to Webster's Dictionary the root of the word care is the Anglo Saxon and Medieval word for anxiety, while the root of the word career is an early modern English word for  a road race derived form the old French 'carier' meaning to carry by wagon and derived from the Latin for a wagon.

However, at a stretch you can still make a link, because you could say that a career is a wagon which conveys a person's cares! I don't want to labour the point any more, but as long as you accept the premise that a person's work reflects something they care about, you could validly make that link. After all, as I've said before, if you don't enjoy what you are doing, you are effectively wasting your life.
So to have a meaningful life you have to do something you enjoy doing i.e. something you care about. That is the only way you will ever "offer more of your potential and capability willingly." Thus if you want to engage your people you have to make them care.

And - paradoxically - you make people care more when you show you care. So put the care back in your people's career!  It doesn't just create a win - it creates a win-win!

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