How to Embed Powerful Employee Engagement
Why Human Capital Accounting is Becoming Imperative

How to Inspire the Right Attitude

Attitude 9897438_sEmployee engagement is, essentially, a matter of attitude. Think about it for a moment. What you are looking for in employee engagement, is employees who are enthusistic, energetic, and enterprising. All of those are states of mind, which collectively you can call ‘attitude’.

This means that efforts to create employee engagement are fundamentally efforts to create the ‘right’ attitude.

But attitude is innate. It comes from inside the individual. This means it is not something you can invoke, instil and insist upon. So you cannot create it. At best you can only inspire it. So how do you do that?

One solution that I came across this week is to adopt slogans! Apparently Tata “motivates” people and creates a sense of urgency that builds endurance (sustainability) in its companies through simple slogans, such as “Question the unquestioned” and “Lead, never follow”. While espoused as the solution this is not enough for me. I would love to know more about how they are pursued. After all, by definition, leadership requires ‘followship’ and the latter statement seems to deny that need.  

Attitude shapes behaviour 31038447_sBe that as it may, however, in order to work these slogans must be supported by reinforcing behaviour. The primary responsibility of any leader is to set an example and “walk the talk.” So you have to ask yourself, “How do leaders in Tata handle being constantly challenged? Is the environment as democratic as these statements would have you believe?”

Regardless of that, this does not provide enough of a recipe to help you with attitude and, while attitude is not everything (as is often claimed), it is certainly the key element in shaping behaviour. (That is why it is the first A in the Zealise Triple A Employee ® model.) Certainly a slogan can help, but only in so far as it encapsulates an underlying principle. It must be supported by reinforcing behaviour. And that boils down to leadership.

Now the best definition of leadership, and the one that I always use to frame the subject, is “Getting people to want what you want.” A pre-requisite for that is setting set an example and “walking the talk.” This is the primary responsibility of any leader. So what behaviours are you living that will inspire the enthusiasm, energy, and enterprise of employee engagement?   Do you have an attitude of engagement yourself that will inspire the attitude of your people?

Tata slogans do point the way. Not least in the call for greater leadership. The distributed leadership that their slogan implies, however, demands that you treat your people as leaders. This calls for a more human, humane way of treating your people. Only then will you get the ‘right’ attitude.       

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, a company created to help larger small to large business organisations to properly value their people and thereby inspire them to optimise their self-worth and so engage them that they transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”

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