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Interview with an Attitude Adjuster

Sybil F. Stershic

November 12, 2008

How many people do you know who use “Attitude Adjuster” as a business title? Kevin Burns does. He specializes in Corporate Personal Development, helping companies develop their people in order to develop better and stronger organizations. His work is based on the premise “that business gets better when the people in the business get better.”

I met Kevin earlier this year when he graciously hosted me as part of my virtual book tour. Given the fascinating nature of his work, I asked him to share his thoughts on employee development.

QSM: How are Attitude and Employee Engagement related?

Kevin: Employee engagement IS an attitude. It’s an attitude based on values, morals and ethics instilled within the individual. If an employee was never taught or learned that their word is golden, then they will never really feel compelled to be fully engaged on the job nor will they ever go over and above the bare minimum in the performance of their duties.

If, however, one of the employee’s values is to keep their agreements and not allow excuses or justifiers to stand in their way, they will perform the job to the best of their abilities. That employee understands that by accepting the offer of employment in the first place, there is an expectation that they were hired as simply the best candidate and carry within them a belief that employment is a privilege and not a right.

People who have a strong set of values and a good sense of doing what is right will always perform their duties to their capacity and will engage themselves in their work.

It is for that reason that I believe that employee engagement is not necessarily something that can be taught directly but, in fact, can only be instilled by soft-skills training: personal development, personal leadership and values-based life strategies. To employ someone in a position where the values of the job are in conflict with the employee’s set of personal values is a waste of a company’s time and money. You can’t fully engage an employee doing a job that goes against everything they believe and expect the employee to give up their own personal and life-long held views of the world.

It is for this same reason that a company’s values need to be developed not by a bunch of expensive-suited executives, but instead must be a grass-roots effort from the people who actually do the work. If the employees develop the corporate values, the chances of the employees engaging themselves in the delivery of those same values are far greater. Corporate values cannot be thrust upon the employee. There has to be a buy-in.

Engagement comes from values. Any and all discussions to the contrary just don’t line up. Employee engagement is an attitude. Without a strong sense of self-worth, the value of the contribution by that same employee will be much less.


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