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Let’s get more clear.  We all feel like we are getting things done when we are at work.  We have a job to do, we get it done, we get paid, we consume – it keeps the industrial world turning.  What’s the big fuss over engagement? Great question!

The difference between someone who is task oriented and checking things off a list, and someone who is fully engaged in the process, is the outcome.  The desire to do well is not different, the understanding of how to fully get engaged with responsibility for the results is very different.

Simply put, the task oriented person is more geared towards successfully completing the task and getting credit for the process and the engaged person is really inspired by the purpose of the request.

I was recently given a simple example of this difference:

Task: write an article

Reason: to drive product information to market with the goal of increasing sales:

Task oriented:  Tracks success by tasks completed

  • Writes down the task somewhere
  • Writes the article
  • Checks it off the list – done! Success!
  • Makes another list of tasks for follow up

Engaged in the process: tracks success by linking one article to #appointments

  • Writes the article
  • Tracks participation on the blog about it
  • Jumps into the online conversation about it
  • Makes connections with readers who are inspired/provoked by it
  • Offers to have phone conversations about
  • Gets appointments to review product

Reading this simple analogy, both employees may get to the same results but they are very different in approach with different viewpoints.

We have, at times, been both.  Start-ups and new projects have an intense deadline, budget, and purpose, and once established, things may become more routine – so being engaged in the process is easy to understand initially, but why not throughout – just at a different level? Being engaged at work is caring about the value your actions add to the world, all the time. Task oriented employees may also care but tend to create a list to track their efforts and this brings more of a work aspect to it and the fun of being engaged may get lost in that process.

It has been suggested that to succeed globally we should quickly moving from the industrial mindset of job-task-consume to the more mindful connect-create–add value mindsets of tomorrow.   If this is true, which one do you want working for you?


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