How compliance can stifle employee engagement

Do you ever wonder why the most engaged employees learn from mistakes, take risks, and come up with clever new ideas? Organizations empower these types of employees to make the right choices. Engaged employees are successful because they raise the bar and challenge processes with critical thinking. They thrive from self-discipline; yet, they can be stifled by compliance.

In the article, Why You Need Your Employees To Argue With You, serial CEO Margaret Heffernan discusses the negative correlation between employee engagement and obedience. Obedient employees embody most workforces since they follow instructions. Heffernan confirms “people mostly do what they’re asked and lack of obedience is not a significant leadership problem”; so the issue tends to remain unchallenged.

Engaged employees are proactive. Imagine the ramifications of a development team who waited for instructions to repair a site crash. Being reactive is one costly way to solve a problem, so encourage employees to voice their opinions to take initiative to solve daily problems.

Heffernan concludes “employees who are proud of the company and feel committed to its success may be more challenging to manage—but that’s a good problem to have. If all you want is obedience, get a robot.” Engaged employees are a positive challenge for management, as they often create new initiatives and hold managers accountable to a higher standard.

Finally, businesses should evaluate their command and control environments and encourage new ways of thinking to promote growth and innovation. Engaged employees will challenge instructions if they believe in a successful alternative, and ask questions if they aren’t entirely sold on a concept. Employers need to take caution of a heads’ down, agreeable workforce.

What are your thoughts on command and control environments and its effect on employee engagement?

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