People Spend Time on What They Believe They Can Change

 

I had the opportunity to hear Marshall Goldsmith speak at the WPO (Women President’s Organization) Annual Conference last week in Dallas.  He presented compelling results from research he did on the topic of employee engagement.  He explained that when employees’ are asked typical employee engagement questions in a passive format, their answers tend to produce more negative results and they blame their external environment, management, etc.  As an example, the questions “do you have clear goals?” and “do you have a friend at work?” are asked from a passive viewpoint. 

In contrast, when those same questions were posed as “do you do your best to set goals at work?” and “do you do your best to be happy at work?” the respondent’s replied more positively.  This is because the same essential questions asked in a different way implied the individual is responsible for the outcomes.  The perspective changes from a ‘victim mentality’ (what my company hasn’t provided to me) to one of being responsible for the outcomes (I guess I haven’t put enough attention on that subject and I can make it better).