On Leadership, Commitment and Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees

A frequent complaint from supervisors is that an employee or team member should be doing something…but that they are not. And they state that when an employee is doing what they should be doing…it is being done incorrectly.

This is a source of great frustration to many supervisors!

Also, the managers wrestle with getting the supervisors to act like better leaders and deal effectively with their “errant” employees.

The Missing Ingredient

Organizations today are missing a critical ingredient important for their business success. The challenge is that they cannot purchase this important commodity. In fact, trying to acquire it with money and incentives usually has the opposite effect.

What is this cherished resource? Employee engagement; a sense of ownership.

When employees and team members feel ownership about their work, they respond with more positive motivation for the work they do. They also respond better to change and are able to make the necessary changes and successfully adapt.

The Right Partnership

Engagement and ownership are valued resources for any leader to have on their team. Organizations need employees to act as partners at work and as advocates for their employer away from work. Any business would benefit from having employees who can adapt to change.

Engaged employees understand the need for change, and do not resist changes.

This can often make the difference between success and failure for any project implementation.

Engaged employees typically:

  • Are more receptive to new ideas
  • Respond quickly to change
  • Support continuous improvement efforts
  • Act as partners
  • Take ownership of the industry away from work

Once the employees are fully engaged and feel ownership, organizations often see positive outcomes, including:

Increased business flexibility

  • Processes becomes changeable
  • Continuous improvement and problem prevention become the norm

Increased commitment

  • Employees can sustain positive motivation
  • Employees make positive contributions

Increased satisfaction

  • Workforce is more stable
  • Turn-over, hiring, and training costs are diminished
  • Employees are more satisfied
  • Supervisors have an easier job managing the employees

Improved business results

  • Management experiences a profitable balance sheet

3 Counter Trends

What makes it difficult to achieve the desired feelings of ownership?

Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, in their book Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort in Extraordinary Times write about three counter trends in today’s work environments that can make it difficult for a supervisor to build a sense of ownership:

  1. Diseconomies of Scale—the larger a company becomes, the greater the opportunity for there to be disconnects between employees.
  2. Generational Diversity—we are seeing multiple generations working together. Although there are many advantages to this diversity, without strong leadership the team can fragment and loose engagement.
  3. Uncertain, Turbulent Times—uncertainty can cause fear and frustration in the absence of effective leadership communication.

Creating the Right Environment

It becomes the supervisor’s priority as the leader to respond to these workplace challenges and create an environment where ownership can flourish. Employees are engaged and productive and add value to the organization when the supervisor can create an environment in which they feel ownership and are positively motivated.

Where motivation is lacking, value is diminished and productivity, safety, and long-term success is limited.

Employees who feel ownership are able to adapt to change. They are in a state of mind where they are always “Ready for Change.” When change is resisted, opportunities are lost and productivity, safety, and long-term success are limited as well.

 A sense of ownership is critical to motivation both at work, and away from work. Ownership is also important for dealing with change effectively. That is when an organization is a change ready, the business benefits from changes that are planned, and those changes that are emergent.

So how is your organization fostering a better environment for employee growth and productivity? What is being done to monitor employee engagement levels? What steps can you take as a leader to foster more commitment with the people that you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Mark McCatty

Mark McCatty is Senior Consultant at Cornelius & Associates
He is a positive influence for Effective Personal and Organizational Leadership
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L2L Contributing Author


  1. ramakrishnan6002 on April 10, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.

  2. Christopher Babson on April 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Well said Mark. To increase likelihood of employee engagement, the manager must activly , consistently engage with each employee in connecting and caring, of course in addition to a number of other things.

  3. kintuefee on April 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    As a leader, you get engaged employees when you demonstrated that you value their contributions and efforts. You need to add value to their professional career by coaching and mentoring them.

    They need to want to follow you because you are an effective leader worth following. So do you have what it takes? That’s the real question.


  4. Julia Taylor-Young on May 4, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Mark,
    Great article. One of the best actions I believe helps with employee commitment is the feeling that the organization cares about them. This happens best through their everyday leader exchanges with their manager or supervisor. Through these interactions, the psychological bond with the organization is strengthened or weakened. That has been my experience in having a great leader and having a leader that did not have a people focus.

  5. Amelia Dodgson on May 30, 2014 at 1:30 am

    I wholeheartedly agree that the best work environment is where employees are motivated. But I’m not so sure that it is about their having a feeling of ownership. It is more about communication, feedback, and empathy. Employees who intrinsically like what they are doing, where they are working, and those they are working with feel compelled to hand in their best work. This is possible when leaders develop leadership skills that inspire their teams.