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One of the most disheartening statistics for leaders concerns employee engagement. Only 13 percent of people employed around the world are fully engaged. As many as 24 percent, actively disengaged

Marshall Goldsmith, a best-selling author and executive coach, offers a simple shift in focus, backed by disciplined research, to help leaders engage employees more effectively.marshall goldsmith

Of all the approaches to increasing employee engagement I’ve come across, Goldsmith’s simple shift in focus from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation makes the most sense.

Intrinsic motivation comes from inside, extrinsic from outside. To galvanize engagement, employees should be asking themselves what can they do to engage themselves rather than what their companies should do to engage them.

“It’s not the outside. It’s the inside,” says Goldsmith. See if you agree:

Think again of the standard engagement question, “Do I have a best friend at work?” Nothing whatsoever wrong with that question in a survey to measure the results of an engagement program or to evaluate the current state of engagement at an organization.

The questions Marshall Goldsmith proposes serve as stimuli to engage employees. Let’s say, for example, as part of an engagement program, you direct employees to ask themselves, “Did I do my best to build positive relationships?” Goldsmith says that question, like the others below, encourages employees to engage themselves.

Then later, the question, “Do I have a best friend at work?” should generate more positive responses in a follow-up survey. On the other hand, asking “Do I have a best friend at work?” will do little or nothing to stimulate engagement.

Here are the six question proposed by Marshall Goldsmith in the video above.

Did I do my best to…

1. Set clear goals
2. Make progress toward achieving my goals
3. Be happy
4. Find meaning
5. Build positive relationship
6. Be fully engaged

How do you engage?

Don’t attempt to tackle employee engagement alone, however. To really learn and put into practice the most effective ways to improve, I strongly recommend our CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Program. There you will learn and practice the leadership skills you need to address alongside leaders like you from other organizations with many of the same challenges. Learn more about CoachQuest.


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.