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Employee Engagement and The Why of Work

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Employee Engagement has been in the forefront of a lot of discussions around HR outsourcing nowadays.Successful leaders are able to connect individual aspirations with what the organization is up to.

Employee Engagement has been in the forefront of a lot of discussions around HR outsourcing nowadays. Just as I was exploring the topic deeply a few weeks ago, I chanced upon 'The Why of Work' - a fantastic book by one of the finest HR author, Dave Ulrich along with Wendy Ulrich. The book is an excellent treatise on how great leaders create a culture of abundance around them that translates to superior performance from employees and infuses the organization with enthusiasm. The shift from money to meaning was a paradigm shift in context.

Just the other day, I heard the famous story about the two stone cutters. Though I had heard the story before, after reading 'The Why of Work', I could relate to the story very strongly. The story talks about how two workers were busy cutting stones in a worksite. While one was full of energy day after day, the other was tired and often exhausted. Intrigued by this, a passerby who went by the site every day for his morning walk asked each stone cutter what they were up to. While the first worker said that he was earning his living cutting stones, the second said that he was helping to build a cathedral that will be home to the Lord.

I look back and find the same is true when I have worked with successful leaders. They were able to connect individual aspiration with what the organization was up to. I remembered the conversation with my current leader when he took over the business and wanted to meet me. After a brief introduction, he asked me what I was passionate about. I hesitated because it had nothing to do with the business we were in. I told him a few things after a pause. He then asked me what were my proudest moments in my career. I told him a few things I was proud of. I still remember what he said after that. He asked me to forget everything else and create a few proud moments in the next few months as it will be the only thing I will ever remember in my career. Today, I do a lot more than I had been doing before that conversation. It was a real "Employee Engagement for Dummies" moment for me.

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