Chances are you have seen and heard the vast amount of reports and research indicating employee engagement is a critical component of retention, productivity, and the overall success of a veterinary practice. As such, practice owners and managers have been focused on ways to understand what employee engagement is and how to increase it in order to impact the culture, morale, and bottom line in their hospitals.
While these leaders work towards creating a workforce of highly engaged employees, I want us to talk about what you as an employee can do to recognize and improve your own level of engagement at work. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe the role of a leader is to help engage and create committed employees on their team. However, I am also a big fan of choosing your own destiny and embrace the whole “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” mentality. So, here is my spin. Feeling disengaged at work? Engage yourself.
Here are four steps to get you started.
1. Make a list of ways the mission and values of the veterinary practice line up with your personal mission and goals in life.
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, write the practice’s mission and value statements. On the right side, write a list of what you value or want to accomplish in life. Then draw lines connecting the statements on each side to see how well they match up. Don’t know the mission of your company? Ask. The worst that can happen is your manager says, “we don’t have one” and then you can ask if you can lead a committee to create one!
2. Each day, pinpoint one or two things you did that tie back to the mission and visions you identified in step one.
This exercise will help you feel connected to the bigger picture even if you had one of those days where it feels like all you did was play catch up and put out fires. Some days at work will feel uninspiring. It’s okay to admit this. What is important is to recognize the many things you accomplish each day that tie back to the things that are most significant to you.
3. Ask for feedback from peers and your manager.
Feel like you aren’t getting enough feedback or are unsure if you are making a difference? Asking your peers and manager to provide feedback will help you see how your actions and day-to-day activities are impacting the team. You might discover new strengths that you never knew you had, or ways to increase your impact and support on the team. Asking others for feedback will also help to create a culture in the practice where open, productive, and positive communication is celebrated.
4. Involve yourself in projects, initiatives, or activities.
People commit themselves more when they are tied to and involved in something greater than what they are getting paid to do. When we volunteer our time or agree to do something above and beyond our normal scope of work, it helps inspire creativity, vision, and excitement around our day-to-day work. You might find that you meet new people from other functions, or you get to know your coworkers on a different level and realize you have more in common than you thought.
So next time you find yourself wondering why you are feeling disconnected from your work or questioning if you are truly impacting the team or practice, don’t rush to the nearest job board and seek a career change. First, try making lemonade. Engage yourself by asking more questions, seeking feedback, and making new relationships. Doing these things might be just what you need to feel reconnected and inspired at work.