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9 engagement drivers – and the 9-minute trick to address them



Struggling with engagement? You’re not alone. In a world where employees are remote – or are in-office wishing they were remote – engagement can be tricky to navigate. 

But there’s not an HR-only solution – because it’s not an HR-only problem. Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units, per Gallup. 

“Inspirational leadership is shifting how people think about what they do … We need our people to be inspiring leaders, not OK managers or bad bosses,” said James Robbins, president at The James Robbins Company, in his recent SHRM23 talk, “Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Turn Managers into Leaders.” 

In his talk, Robbins laid out some essential engagement drivers, and a quick and simple framework to help managers stay committed to prioritizing engagement and helping their teams succeed. 

Top engagement drivers

Engagement drivers are “emotional, psychological needs that, when met, … give a boost of motivation,” says Robbins. That motivation can be a driving factor for an employee’s engagement and success. 

Engagement drivers include:

  1. Care: The need to be more than a number. 
  2. Recognition: The need for recognition and appreciation.
  3. Achievement: The need for mastery and achievement. 
  4. Significance: The need for purpose and significance.
  5. Autonomy: The need to be self-directed. 
  6. Connect: The need to connect relationally.
  7. Fun: The need to play and create.
  8. Model: The need for a model to follow.

Turn managers into leaders in 9 minutes

It’s great to know what the drivers of engagement are – but how do you help managers prioritize them for their team? With “Nine Minutes on Monday,” says Robbins. 

This Monday morning ritual encourages leaders to take less than 10 minutes before they open their email or get into their to-do list to set intentional goals related to the nine engagement drivers.

Minute one: Care – When and with whom will you show genuine interest or concern? 

Minute two: Mastery – This week who will you give feedback to?

Minute three: Recognize – This week who will you reward or recognize? And how will you do it? 

Minute four: Purpose – How will you connect purpose to pay for an employee or the team this week? 

Minute five: Autonomy – How can you support or promote someone’s autonomy this week?

Minute six: Grow – Who will you help grow and develop this week?  

Minute seven: Sticky – What small thing can you do this week to increase team stickiness? 

Minute eight: Play – Where is one place you can inject fun into the job or team this week? 

Minute nine: Model – What leadership quality will you model this week?

Although they may seem like small goals, these small boosts each week can create a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce. “It’s not rocket science actually,” says Robbins. “It’s just people doing the little things, the right things, over and over again.“

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