The 3 Necessary Components for Employee Engagement in Role (+1 more)

I’m preparing for a panel discussion this upcoming Tuesday about performance management and employee engagement, and wanted to share a quick insight with you.  I’ll share my full ‘transcript’ next week but thought this excerpt about employee engagement might interest folks:

As it relates to the workplace, I would say there are 2 types of employee engagement — engagement in the role, and engagement in the company.  And these can be mutually exclusive, so as People professionals, we need to make sure we are addressing both through our efforts.  

(It can be easy to invest a ton of time in the latter through social events and think you are addressing ‘engagement’, but please recognize that it’s just half of the story.)

I’ll focus on ‘engagement in the role’ here because that’s more relevant to today’s discussion.  Not to get all theoretical, but I think there are 3 necessary components for this type of engagement:

  • Growth opportunity
  • Skills to be successful
  • Passion for the job


If you have only 1 or 2 of these, then you don’t have someone who is deeply engaged.  For example, if you have the growth opportunity + passion, but not the skills, you may feel overwhelmed and frustrated. If you have skills + passion but no growth opportunity, you may feel stuck… and frustrated.  And if you have the growth opportunity + skills, but no passion, then you’ll get bored. …And probably frustrated.  😖

November 13th addition:  I completely forgot to add the obvious 4th requirement for engagement in role — an encouraging, receptive manager who empowers you.  If you don’t have that, then all bets are off.

Every time I think of an employee who was disengaged or unhappy in their roles, it was for one of these reasons.  And, when they are disengaged, they don’t perform to their potential.  I remember when I was at McKinsey, I had a senior associate who had received very poor ratings, and there was talk about counseling him out.  In a last ditch effort, he and I discussed what really ignited his passions, and he said he very much wanted to work in the <<****>> sector, but all of the work we were doing in the New York office was Finance.  So we found a project in <>….and his performance literally changed overnight.  He’s now a McKinsey partner in the <> office.  And this is just one of many similar stories I’ve experienced or heard of at McKinsey and elsewhere.

While the People function in most companies may not be able influence employees’ passion for their work, we have the ability to help them identify growth opportunities and to build skills for success.  This is where performance management and learning & development practices matter.

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