Great Leaders Know: The Secret to Engagement is Productivity

There’s a funny episode from The Office in which Michael thinks that if he makes his office more like Google, then people will be happy and work harder.

He goes all out, installs a Nerf hoop, gets a beanbag chair, and creates an open office floor plan.

While this was a funny TV show, I’m sure you’ve heard of folks who have tried to drive engagement by making a “fun” environment.

This doesn’t really work.

A growing body of work points to this idea:

People are most engaged when they are productive, not the other way around.

Dan Pink‘s Drive assimilates the motivation research that shows this, and there’s increasingly more out there on the subject.

It all boils down to this:

Treat people well, and have high expectations of them.

Make sure they’re productive.

Give them everything they need to do an awesome job.

This could include budget, staff, and facilities, but the best and least expensive tool?


Give frequent feedback so that people know what to keep doing, and what to change.

They love it. And, if they don’t, they’re probably not a match.

If you enjoy your line of work, you tend to be happiest when you’re accomplishing great work.

And when you hit that point, that “flow,” you are at your most productive. The same is true for your team.

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