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Why Choice matters?

· choice,employee engagement,leadership qualities,HR,motivation

Singapore heads into another phase of leadership change in September 2017, the Head of State will have a transition where the nation has the opportunity to elect their new leader.

On 11th September 2017, the news broke that there will be one Certificate of Eligibility that will be issued. Effectively, the new leader will be sworn in on 14th September 2017 as Singapore's eighth Head of State.

This is not going to be a political post on Singapore's Presidential Election. However, it will focus on the aftermath and lessons that we can apply in leadership transition and engagement.

After the news was announced, there are sentiments that vary across the nation. While positive congratulatory comments spread across social media, the strong sentiments that have been portrayed in the small nation erupted where reports show strong emotional negativity.

How can leadership transition be intrinsically managed in an engagement context?

Back in 2015, there was a summary of how engagement will work from an intrinsic front. One important element is the "Sense of Choice" when we need to intrinsically engage people. The need for people to feel in control and what is coming up next allows them the feeling of security in an environment.

Handing off choice allows people to determine how much risk are they going to absorb in calculating and assessing the risk involved for people to behave or react in a certain way which translates to the tolerance towards risk in each context of a situation. The individual need to feel that one is in control to make choices to increase engagement.

Let's explore how it feels to individuals in experiencing the lack of choice:

1.) Describe an experience when you have had little freedom to use your own discretion in accomplishing a task?

2.) What was your emotional reaction? How did it affect your attitude? Your energy? Your ownership of the task?

These are important questions that you will need to reflect on your past experiences associated with your work and life. Generally, if the ability to feel a sense of choice is not handed to you in the process, the answers to the above will be pretty negative in nature.

Choice is the opportunity you feel to select task activities that make sense to you and to perform them in ways that seem appropriate. This feeling is being free to choose with your own judgment and your own understanding of the task.

Why is it important? It gives the person the ability to be aware that their own views and insights matter. In engagement space, it's portraying that "Your Opinion matters".

Quoting works by DeCharms, I am extracting 3 statements from his paper:

“Man’s primary motivational propensity is to be effective in producing changes in his environment. Man strives to be a causal agent, to be the primary locus of causation…” (p. 269)

“Whenever a person experiences himself to be the locus of causality for his own behavior…he will consider himself to be intrinsically motivated….” (p. 328)

“We may hypothesize that when a man perceives his own behavior as stemming from his own choice he will cherish that behavior and its results; When he perceives his behavior as stemming from the dictates of external forces, that behavior and its results, although identical in other respects to behavior of his own choosing will be devalued” (p. 273)

Intrinsic motivators will be operative when people feel that their actions are autonomous and not functioning under conditions where controls or reinforcements are experienced.

How can you start handing off choices to increase engagement? What are the factors that enhance the freedom to choose?

Authority - Giving employees the right to decide issues affecting work delegated to them.

Trust - Trusting employees' judgment; giving them space to exercise it - with minimal interference

Security - Showing employees they won't be blamed/punished for honest mistakes - Reducing fear

Purpose - Clarifying task objectives to guide employee' decision making

Information - Sharing the information needed to make informed choices

These are the building blocks needed to start establishing and enhancing one area that impacts intrinsic motivation. (Of course, there are still others) but letting them feel a "Sense of Choice" will be fundamental for creating lasting engaged relationships.

Start working on areas that help build the "Sense of Choice" and leaders will find significant positive impact on employees' motivation at work.

We will love to work with you on how you can find value in enhancing intrinsic motivation at work. Contact us for customized programs for your leaders.

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