Engagement Drives Performance

Recruitment & Retention Strategist

Over the last few years, a lot of attention has been focused on the concept of engagement. Departments and organizations across the country have implemented engagement surveys to drive higher levels of engagement in their organizations. Research shows engagement does predict performance both at the individual and organizational levels.

Engagement is more than just a vague buzzword for satisfied members. People who are engaged are absorbed in their work and are attentive about the work they accomplish.

While stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, my first job was as a receiving clerk, in-checking all types of property from missiles to pencils. Early, I learned that engagement drives performance. In every position I’ve held since, I understood when I invested my head, heart, hands, and physical energy into my work because I was engaged in a job, the people I served, and the mission.

The team I had around me created an environment that allowed me to feel safe about pouring myself into my work and helped motivate me to perform. I was the worker you see on television shows like “Undercover Boss,” saying things like “I’m so excited about my work that it doesn’t feel like work.”

So how can you tell when your members are engaged? Engagement is something that you can see in people. It’s visible in the form of high levels of energy, and involvement, and mindfulness, high levels of intrinsic motivation. When someone is focused and engaged, they tend to be very difficult to distract.

Members take the initiative to ensure that things go well because they care that things go well and become energized by their work. They derive energy from the work that they do. And they don’t easily get discouraged by obstacles. Honestly, those obstacles made me work harder towards achieving my goals.

Dr. William A. Kahn, a professor of organizational behavior at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business describes engagement as “the employment and expression of a person’s preferred self…people who are engaged keep their selves within a role, without sacrificing one for the other” (Kahn, 1990, p.700). When your members are engaged, they bring their true identity, thoughts, and feelings to add a personal stamp on their work, and their authentic self gets displayed within their role.

We tend to overlook those members in the middle tier, of three to five years in the department. It’s necessary to take time to engage those members and find out their long and short-term goals within your department and make sure the reason they joined your department is still satisfying them.

It all points to how members feel about your organization, what the organization does for them, and how engaged they are with the organization. In that warehouse at Cannon Air Force Base, it was clear that my engagement drove my performance which created satisfaction. If only the Rolling Stones read my blog.

Kahn, W. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33(4)

Walter works with First Arriving’s fire/EMS and law enforcement recruitment partners to create and manage compelling recruitment and retention programs, including social media strategies, video creation and Recruitment and Retention platform development. A 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force, Campbell served as an enlisted and officer recruiter focused on diversity relationships with colleges and universities, including career centers, student clubs and other on-campus organizations.

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