While it probably doesn’t feel like it in many parts of the world, there’s no denying that the calendar has turned the page to April and spring really has arrived. My friends in the Northeast are rolling their eyes at me right now as the vestiges of this horrible, never-ending winter are just starting to melt, literally!
What would you say if I told you that the weather can have an affect on how engaged you or your employees are? During the winter season, there are a number of people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and yes it is a real affliction. Its symptoms can mimic that of depression, which also are very similar to those seen in people who are disengaged. SAD is in fact a subtype of depression and happens to people when they don’t get enough sunlight. Some of the symptoms of people who suffer from this are:
When people suffer from low engagement, they exhibit a number of the same symptoms as those listed above, in addition to isolating themselves from others, mood swings, low productivity, lack of creativity and an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. If you see the warning signs, either in yourself or in others you manage, here are some of my favorite ways to spring-clean your way to engagement.
There’s nothing better than getting out of the workplace and breathing in the (hopefully) warm air. Don’t order lunch in, go out and get it. Conduct a meeting while walking outside. You will be less distracted by the phone or your computer, and more able to connect to that person on a one-to-one basis. There’s also a great benefit when it comes to weight loss if you walk a lot!
My father used to love to say that ‘a sign of a sick mind is a clean desk’. While I might have believed that when I was younger, as I spent more time in the workplace I came to realize that clutter was just a way for me to get out my frustrations. Looking back, I can see now that when I was really passionate and engaged in my work, I kept a much more organized and clean office. I wanted to be able to come in and easily find what I needed to get started on the work. When I wasn’t as engaged, my inbox would overflow with things that didn’t seem to have a home and I spent more time moving paper around then actually doing something with it. Making a conscious effort to clean up your workspace is a great way to get rid of those things that aren’t that important and put the engaging stuff front and center.
Engaged employees ignite growth; disengaged employees extinguish the spark. When you are passionate and committed to what you are doing, you usually aren’t okay with the status quo. It’s a time to be creative and innovative and see what can happen. Change doesn’t happen overnight but sometimes just planting one new seed is all it takes to reengage your spirit. It’s about making some small changes and then nurturing them along to create an environment in which you can do your best work.
Get out of your comfort zone and do something new. Take a class. It doesn’t have to just be related to work. It can be personal in nature. Start writing more, be it a blog post, a journal entry, an article for a trade publication or just a plain old business memo. It’s a great way to clear out the cobwebs in your brain. Read more. Try some challenging puzzles. Whatever it is, do something new (or reengage an old habit), to exercise your brain.
My secret sauce for engagement is all about going back to basics, which is simply connecting with someone. That can be your boss or a loved one, a friend or a colleague, a spiritual advisor or a teacher. In our fast-paced, tech driven lives we’ve unfortunately forgotten the fine art of simply connecting with another human being. It’s all about creating an environment where great conversations can take place. It’s about asking the right questions, and then listening, both to what is being said but also what is left unsaid. It’s paying attention to what you heard, but also what you saw when connecting.
Spring is a great time to look forward with hopes and dreams of a bountiful garden of abundance. Don’t waste time stuck in the winter doldrums of disengagement, but rather look at this as the season of full bloom, and get out there and engage.