Busy or Engaged? How Do You Know?

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Are your team members just busy or are they truly engaged? And how do you know? For the next several weeks, we’re going to talk about strategies for having more influence. In order to know how to do that, you’ve got to first get the lay of the land.

First, what’s the difference between being busy and being engaged?

I’d truly be interested to know what you think. But since this is a blog, I’ll have to hope that you’ll comment while I just share my own thoughts. To me, being busy is exhausting. On those days when I never seem to make forward progress in spite of completing several tasks, I’ve probably just been busy. Being engaged is a whole other level. It gives me energy. I can track forward momentum and progress. Interestingly, being engaged may not result in as many tasks getting crossed off the list. But it’s way more rewarding.

What about your team? Are they busy or engaged? Maybe it’s somewhere in between, or changes day to day. How do you know?

If you read my blog, like, ever, you’ll probably guess what I’m going to say… ask.

And while that’s always a good option, that particular question can sometimes be difficult for us to answer about ourselves. It takes some reflection, for which many of us feel like we rarely have time.

Instead, I think this is something managers and leaders should assess themselves first. Here are a few steps to get you started on this process.

  1. Make a list. Literally, write down each person’s name in a column.
  2. For each person, think about how they’ve been working over the past two weeks. What challenges have they experienced, if any? What have you noticed? Sometimes challenges with engagement come out in attitude. Other times that person may need a lot of extra time from you. Yet other ways can be in causing conflict with other team members. Or a simple clash with approaches.
  3. What now? Based on a challenge you’ve identified, what action step would you like this person to take? If you’re able to identify something concrete and practical, you’re more likely to have a productive, forward-moving conversation.
  4. Plan your approach. Think through how you can have the most productive conversation possible with that team member. What outcomes are you hoping to reach? How will you engage this person in a productive conversation? How will you draw them out to understand their perspective?

In order to get the best from your team, you must start by taking stock of where everyone is struggling. That’s the first step in identifying ways you can help and support them. And isn’t that what leadership is about?

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