Most organizations would agree that the greatest asset of any organization is its people. Yet, when it comes to employee engagement—the level of “enthusiasm and connection employees have with their organization” (Croswell, 2020)—leadership often considers employees as a whole rather than individual parts with their own goals and strengths.
Employee engagement has been tracked by Gallup in the U.S. for two decades. Though there has been some recent variation (which I will discuss later in this article), the trend has held steady that less than one-third of U.S. employees have considered themselves engaged in their jobs and workplaces (Mann & Harter, 2016).
William Kahn, master of employee engagement theory, stated in his 1990 paper entitled “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work” that engaged employees express their “authentic selves” through physical involvement, cognitive awareness, and emotional connections. Conversely, disengaged employees “uncouple” themselves from their roles, suppressing personal involvement in physical, cognitive, and emotional aspects of work.
There is a plethora of data that associates the level of employee engagement and organizational team performance. Data shows that team members’ positive attitudes towards “team cohesion, cooperation and coordination” positively influence team outcomes (Uddin, Mahmood, & Fan, 2019), and yet we often aim for collective satisfaction or specifically being fair and consistent to all. Perhaps we as leaders and executives should be bolder in our approach.
Lessons from Player Management Strategies
In July 2020 the Liverpool Football Club won the English Premier League. The previous year, they won the UEFA Champions League final. Many pundits credit Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp, a German professional football manager and former player, with Liverpool’s rise to success.