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Rising to the challenge?


The story

At the end of a training session today, a participant asked me to help her with something. She was struggling with conflicting messages coming from different superiors in her organisation. She wanted to go for a promotion – one person was telling her to go for it, one was saying to sit tight for later opportunities.

"What do you want?" I asked her. "To move on from this role", she said, "it's too easy, I'm not doing anything new". She felt like the people who were advising her against the promotion were trying to hold her back. Ever felt like this? I know I have. I have seen many people feel like they've been doing a job for months before they're officially promoted. Why does this happen?

The thinking

This situation came at an interesting time. I have just been analysing the results of some further research into my model of what it means to flourish at work (i.e. employee engagement) – and there will be more blogs to follow on this. I developed this model from a Grounded Theory perspective – talking to lots of people who really love what they do and felt that they were flourishing. They told me what that experience was like and what contributed to it. The six key areas of the model are: Feeling Valuable, Feeling Autonomous, Feeling Challenged, Feeling Passionate, Feeling Safe and Feeling Connected. I recently asked 45 volunteers to fill in a survey assessing their levels of each of the six feelings. Something interesting happened. Broadly, results were consistent, with average scores suggesting people feel each of the six things 60-70% of the time. Challenge was the only one that was different, the average score here was down at 55% (with some individuals rating it as low as 33%). What's going on?

Often we refer to the model of flow here – we need the right balance of skills and challenge to feel motivated. How do we get that balance? I think it's down to both us and our managers. If we're not being challenged enough, we need to speak up, and we may need to set our own goals. And, if we're managing people, perhaps we need to be more creative about the challenges we set. We can change more than just 'how quickly' or 'how well' someone does something – what about the level of support they receive? What about the wider recognition of their work across the business? Can we increase their levels of exposure?

I'd love to know your stories, thoughts and ideas about this one – are you being challenged enough?

If you're a manager and you need to look at the employee engagement of your team, including, among other things, setting the right level of challenge, then check out our 'Engaging your team' session. We've designed it specifically for team leaders and managers.

Employee engagement


5 Ways you can Achieve Flow 18 April 2018, 00.00 Sharon
5 Ways you can Achieve Flow
Often described as a state of mind in which you can experience total immersion and involvement in what you’re doing, where things happen effortlessly and time disappears, flow is what athletes often call “being in the



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