October 2011

Engagement

We all know that—whether for patients, students, or faculty and staff—satisfaction is an important barometer of how well things are working, or not working.

For us as employees, I’d say that being “satisfied” means feeling up to the requirements of one’s job…having a sense of participating in what’s happening…and viewing the overall system as upright and fair.

And all of those, of course, are essential to the healthy functioning of any organization. 

As far as they go.  

But to me, “satisfaction” is a pretty lukewarm concept—more an absence-of-the-negative, you might say, than an expression of deep fulfillment.

What all of us really want, I think, is to feel that our talents are being fully put to use…that we’re making a difference…and that the people around us recognize and appreciate what we’re trying to contribute. 

When those conditions are aligned, hard work tends to energize, rather than deplete. You go home, at the end of even a very busy day, feeling you’ve accomplished things that mattered to you and to others—and knowing you’re part of creating something that you’re proud of.

To me, that’s not just satisfaction, it’s engagement. And shared engagement is what builds community and binds us all together.