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Home » Leadership

Do you feel ‘in control’ at work?

Submitted by on Friday, 8 November 2013One Comment

We have written a lot about employee engagement and most recently how the emotional aspect of engagement just can’t be ignored.

We’ve also written how individuals fundamentally engage Head, Heart and Hand to their work – and that this is the individual barometer of engagement at any given time.

This post looks at the ‘Heart’ aspect that links the knowledge and skill aspect of ‘Head’ and behaviour / performance aspect of  ‘Hand’ and one key driver that we like to measure – the feeling of being ‘in control’.

How to measure ‘In Control’

If we’re back in ‘wishy washy HR terrain’, please forgive us. But emotion is what drives our engine perhaps more than anything else – even more than money on a longer term basis.

So here’s one simple statement that you can put before your colleagues to guage one aspect of that emotional commitment:

‘I feel in control at work’

Then, on a scale from 1-5, ask them to rate their agreement with that statement.

‘In Control’ is overlooked by organisations measuring engagement

‘Work’ is more of a marathon than a sprint. In our post HR Moneyball, we looked at one framework to measure human capital value against. And in 10,000 hours, we saw how long it can take to get an employee up to the standard of being competent – let alone at the level of mastery.

Achieving results in an organisation is rarely an ‘I’ thing or a ‘You’ thing. Most often, it’s a ‘We’ thing. So engagement as a whole – and our emotional commitment collectively in particular – needs to be paid attention to.

A quick detour to culture

Most cross-cultural programmes (including our own) will look at locus of control as one important cultural aspect. Put simply, those from Western cultures will tend to feel more ‘in control’ of their fate and destinies, whereas those from Eastern cultures will tend to see their destinies more as a matter of chance.

What’s interesting is that companies with low levels of employee engagement also tend to have employees who see outcomes more as ‘a matter of fate’ than something they can influence directly.

This is why asking the above question is useful as one key (and simple) emotional barometer.

3 ways to increase feelings of ‘in control’ at work – and engage your colleagues more regularly

We looked previously at the concept of empowerment through ‘flow’ at work. If you want to create higher feelings of ‘in control’ and engage your colleagues more regularly, here are 3 tips to start:

· Talents What are your colleagues’ individual talents? What are their skills?… What are their capabilities or strengths? (The combination of talents and skills)

· Role & outcome What do you expect from them? Can you define ‘success’? If not, can you define the process? Is the workload based on their talents (above) realistic? 

· Communication & Collaboration Do your colleagues have say in the work that they do? Do you listen to that say? Are your communication or reporting requirements clear and agreed upon?

If you who have been following our posts you will know that we touched on empowerment and ‘flow’ in the past (you can read the post here) – and the feeling of ‘in control’ we believe is a prerequisite of achieving that state. 

Next step? Have a look at Engagement Factor

If you are interested in increasing Engagement in your work team or company, have a look at our hands-on and engaging programme Engagement Factor which trains the 9 key factors to promoting engagement at work – and boosting that feeling of being ‘in control’. For more details, simply follow the link below…


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One Comment »

  • Laurene says:

    I need to to thank you for this very good
    read!! I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I’ve got you bookmarked to check out new stuff you

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