14 Employee Engagement Lessons From 2 Boys and a Sewer

Full Employee Engagement is Sewer Power, Really!

Notice what is in front of you. I was returning home from a jog when I encountered my neighbour and her twosons. The boys, ages 2 and 4, were bounding ahead of their mom straight to the cover of the sewer on our street (see the picture of the actual sewer above).

Down the Sewer and Into Engagement. They didn’t hesitate to plunk themselves down on the manhole and engage fully with the sewer. Within moments, I noticed them scrapping at the grate with little twigs, throwing small pebbles to hear the plunk, and lying face down and peering down into the dark abyss.

Think again. I smiled at my neighbor and said it was great to see how engaged her boys could be with a simple sewer cover and that we adults seemed all too busy for this. As I got home I began to think of the power of the sewer and engagement. I went back, took the picture above, and made this list of lessons:

The 14 Engagement Lessons of the Sewer Grate:

  1. Embrace time. Embrace time in your life to experience the absorption and  freedom of full engagement.
  2. The myth of  inherently engaging work. Work is not engaging in and of itself. With the right mindset we can engage in any type of work. Stop dreaming of another job and wake up to the work in front of you.
  3. Work is better together. Engagement is better together. It helps to engage with your younger brother or a coworker. Engagement is doubled: engaged in work and engaged with each other.
  4. Get close to your work. Stop being self-conscious while you work, feel free to lay on the sewer without a care or simply immerse yourself in the work in front of you.
  5. Stay young, don’t grow up. When someone tells you to grow up don’t forget how engaged you were when you were young. Leverage the wisdom of weaving play into your work.
  6. Stinky work? Even stinky work can be engaging.
  7. Below the surface. In our work, there is lots going on below the surface. Take time to notice and drop the occasional pebble down the grate to hear how deep your work actually is.
  8. Get your mind into the gutter. Perhaps we don’t always have to get our mind out of the gutter.
  9. Find tools close at hand. Look for tools and job aids close at hand. A twig can be a scrapper and a pebble can be a depth charge. What tools are at hand that would help you more fully engage in your work?
  10. Be Grate! Ask yourself: What is holding me back from “Grate-ness”?
  11. Invite your boss to engage. Don’t be afraid to call your mom or boss over to see the neat things you are engaged in. You might just be engaging them too in their work.
  12. Adventure is right in front of us. Stop taking so much for granted. We can find adventure in the manhole or the mundane. Remember, even a hole has the potential to create wholeness.
  13. “Let be” versus “get do”. Engagement may be as much about letting your self be as getting yourself to do.
  14. You learned it all before kindergarten.  Perhaps all we needed to learn about employee engagement can be learned before kindergarten.

Invitation. You don’t need to race out of your cubicle on the 52 floor of your office building in New York City, race down the elevator, and drop yourself on to the road and peer down a sewer grate on Fifth Avenue. Although if you are so inclined don’t think I would stop you (of course watch out for cars). What I do invite you to do is read the lessons above and determine what you can do to  fully enhance your work experiences.

Go ahead, make work “grate.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

David Zinger, M.Ed., is an employee engagement writer, educator, speaker, coach, and consultant. He offers exceptional contributions on employee engagement for leaders, managers, and employees. David founded and moderates the 2300 member Employee Engagement Network. His website offers 1000 posts/articles relating to employee engagement and strength based leadership. David is involved in the application of Enterprise 2.0 approaches to engagement and the precursor, creating engaging approaches to communication, collaboration, and community within Enterprise 2.0.

Book David for education, speaking, and coaching on engagement today for 2010.

Email: [email protected]  Phone 204 254 2130  Website: www.davidzinger.com

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