The conversation that ignited the insight went like this:

Leader: “Something is wrong with Jill. At one point she was high-potential. But now she’s disengaged – perhaps even a flight risk. Would you speak with her?”

Me: “Sure. But first, let me ask you: When is Jill most ‘alive’ or energized during the day?”

Leader, after some thought: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Have you ever asked her?”

Leader: “No. That’s too personal.”

Me to myself: This isn’t a Jill problem. This is a leadership opportunity.

Me to Leader: “You’re right – an employee’s decision to engage is a personal one. And because the leader’s priority is to create an engaged workforce, it is your responsibility to facilitate Jill’s engagement.”

Later that week:

Leader, to Jill: “What aspect of your work most inspires or fulfills you?”

Jill: “When I get to innovate and design solutions with colleagues!”

Me: “How often do you get to do that each week?”

Jill: “Hardly ever.”

Leader: Resisting the temptation to ask, ‘why not?’ instead asks: “What can we do right now to create more opportunities for you to do this sort of work more frequently?”

With that, one more employee:

  • was heard
  • included
  • honored
  • retained
  • and became anchored in more meaningful work.

Do you know what work most fulfills the members of your team? (Do you know what work most fulfills you?)

P.S. The workforce is insisting on having a more meaningful work experience. I hope you can join our 50-minute Collaborative Leader’s Huddle this Thursday at 11:00 a.m. EST. My guest, Stacey Engle, CEO of Authority Lab™, and I will be having an unscripted conversation as we answer this big question: How do you create more meaning in your work? Register here – and if you can’t make it, we’ll send you a recording for free.



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