My speaking travels this month took me to Chicago twice and Washington, D.C. in a 10-day span. Although I’m loving the adventure of traveling around the world speaking about my book and inspiring people to embark on an employee engagement journey in their company, my favorite part of every trip is returning home.
Why? Because without fail, my pets greet me at the door with unbridled excitement and unconditional love. Regardless of the time I walk in, they are there to welcome me home and put a smile on my face. When I arrived home from Chicago two weeks ago late at night, I didn’t immediately fall asleep after starting a load of laundry. I lay awake thinking about the fact that my pets give me 100 percent discretionary effort because they are engaged. I know, I know… but this truly is what goes through the minds of the employee engagement experts I know! We continually look for examples of disengagement and engagement.
Engagement is defined as trust in leadership and an emotional connection to the company. Based on the way my pets interact with me, I know they trust me emphatically and have an emotional connection to the environment in my house. Why else would they headbutt and then eat my plastic plants, do backflips off my bed’s headboard (true), or lounge in front of the fireplace on their backs with all four paws up in the air?
As I think about the environment I’ve created for my pets in my house, it mirrors the environment leaders need to create in business in order to engage employees:
- Two-Way Communication. I talk to my pets and when they begin the conversation, I answer back. When they do something wrong, I don’t yell – I cuddle.
- Recognition. Be it catching a fly or snagging a toy that I’m whipping through the air, I praise my pets daily for their efforts and accomplishments.
- Goal Alignment. My pets are clear about how my house operates. We march in the same direction as a team, getting up, eating, playing, and resting our heads down at the same time each day.
BE AWESOME. If you have pets, I’m guessing that they, too, are engaged. Replicate your actions with your pets in the workplace and watch magic happen. I know that our amazing furry companions are easier to deal with than complicated people, but nonetheless, the tools you use to engage your best friend at home are the same tools that will engage your employees at work.