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Optimizing Professional Engagement By: Alison Sfreddo


Professional engagement in the workplace has profound benefits for both the organization and the employee. A recent Gallup survey demonstrated that only 32% of the American workforce is "engaged” in their jobs. By that they mean: enthusiastic about, involved in, and committed to their work. Being engaged at work creates increased production for the organization and professional fulfillment for employees. But professional engagement is not only management driven. It requires initiative and mindful presence of each and every team member to maintain a positive work environment. The following are a few ideas to help you feel engaged and energized:

Volunteer for tasks and projects that align with your passions and showcase your talents. When you are engaged in meaningful work that is aligned with your natural skill set and interest, you are plugged in on many levels—emotionally and intellectually.  

Celebrate and manage differences. Make it a point to continually look for the best and brightest characteristics in those you work with. It is also important to learn, accept and relate to the communication styles of others for productive conversations and successful collaborations.

Demonstrate authenticity. One important element in workplace engagement is building and maintaining trusting relationships with both your team and management. This can be achieved by being authentic to those around you. When your actions toward others are in harmony with your own belief system, you will be perceived as trustworthy, sincere and relatable. 

Recognize the talents and accomplishments of colleagues. Celebrating the contributions colleagues builds comradery and boosts morale. Often their accomplishments enhance the team and the mission. It can also lead to some friendly competition.

Take a break together. Something as simple as going out to lunch or organizing a happy hour allows the team to take a break from the action and discuss interests that are not work related.

Seek out relevant training opportunities. Choosing relevant learning experiences that align with your current position can enhance your creativity and strengthen your skill set. Learning is a continuous life long process. Develop the habit of purposely looking for new opportunities to further grow and develop your professional competencies.   

Manage perceptions. Be open to feedback about both strengths as well as areas for improvement.  Although it can be difficult to receive, try to focus on how the feedback can improve your skills or relationships with others.

Practice gratitude. Keep a list in the corner of your agenda of the positive things that happen throughout the day. Noticing what you love about work and home will help you set your intentions and priorities. 

Engage inpresent-moment awareness. One of the best ways to sustain professional engagement is to commit to being present in your day-to-day activities. Take the time to be deeply aware in your work and any task you are currently tackling.  Focus on something that is going to get you ready and centered for the day.  In the same vein, shut down devices and turn off phone notifications.  Constant alerts can be distracting.

ASK A MENTOR

Professional engagement is a continuous process that requires conscious "presence” in the workplace. It also involves support, recognition of others and emotional intelligence. The next time you meet with your mentoring partner, plan to discuss the ways in which you can invigorate the team and show that you value your colleagues. The following are a few topics to consider:

·         How do you perceive some of your colleague’s differences?

o   What are some of the differences? 

o   How do you react or engage with them?

o   Could you improve your methods of communicating with them?

·         How do you perceive your level of authenticity with others?

o   Are you open and transparent or are you guarded or shy?

o   Are your actions towards those around you consistent with your true self?

·         What are some of the "dream” projects you would like to initiate or take part in?

o   What steps would you need to take to make it happen?

·         What are some ways that your office could build comradery during the day?

o    A monthly potluck? A volunteer opportunity afterhours?

·         Do you recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others?

o   Or do they make your more competitive?

o   How can you be more gracious with the milestones of others?

·         What are some training opportunities that you find of interest and that would be beneficial to your current work?

o   What are the avenues to request and fund training?

·         How do you manage perceptions?

o   Do you ask for feedback?

o   Do you openly accept it or feel resentful?

·         How can you share feedback with others?

o   Do you exhibit emotional intelligence when doing so?

·         What are some ways you practice gratitude?

·         How do you stay present in the workplace?  At home?