Driving and Engaging your Team

In recent years, American companies spent more than $100 billion on employee training activities and over $1 billion on employee engagement programs. Still, challenges of employees, and the employee engagement rate, hasn’t improved much and it continues to stagnate at around 34%.

That’s not even the most troubling part. The business environment is getting increasingly unpredictable and most American workers simply don’t have the disposition to adapt to the unpredicted challenges and opportunities.

A recent survey of U.S. workers revealed that only 35% of the workers had the inclination to welcome challenges. In fact, even among the employees who were engaged, only 38% reported taking initiatives.

This lack of drive for taking on challenging situations is present in all job types and at all levels. Out of all the surveyed workers, nearly 50% people were in senior management and executive roles.

How Important is Worker Passion?

There are 3 critical elements of worker passion that drive the risk-taking essential for business growth:

  1. The willingness to seek out difficult challenges
  2. The ability to coordinate with others in order to find more effective solutions
  3. The desire to make a substantial impact

There are a number of factors that can cause the workers to lack this passion for actively seeking challenging roles, such as:

  • The continuously evolving technological trends and feeling of instability that can lead to risk-minimizing, defensive attitude aimed toward the short-term goals.
  • The rigid expectations of the majority of managers who still expect the workers to perform the highly standardized tasks spelled out in process manuals. Several US employees are working in environments that discourage people from experimenting. Managers actually dissuade workers from getting invested in exploring alternative solutions for difficult challenges.
  • The behavior of companies, as they come under pressure, becomes more risk-averse and short-term, leading them to focus on getting results fast.


Several organizations demand that employees just “do what they’re told” since failure is unacceptable. And when employees are acting out of fear, how likely are they to seek challenges or take risks?

How to Encourage Employees to Become “Risk-Takers”

Here’s what the business leaders can do to make their workers more enthusiastic and prepared to face challenges that lie in the future:

You do it First

The best thing you can do as a business leader is to go the extra mile and commit to making a personal change. Is something keeping you from showing up with enthusiasm for the challenge? Is your fear of failure getting in the way?

Identify the passionate employees in your company and bring their efforts to spotlight – along with your own.  This will show all your employees that the company welcomes experimentation and risk-taking.

Create a Sustainable Work Environment

Organizations should offer space and necessary freedom to encourage challenge-seeking across different levels. Encourage the employees to coordinate with others who are more knowledgeable.

Allocate these workgroups more autonomy and responsibility in handling the tasks of the company.

Don’t forget to celebrate efforts that result in growth and higher performance. It is equally important to do away with the policies that prevent workers from taking risks.

Help your Employees Understand their Impact

If you want to effectively use the art of autonomy, it is crucial to understand what matters and where to direct your efforts. Most workers often don’t really see how their efforts are impacting the organization.

Your job is to help the workers pose compelling questions and identify what’s important about new challenges.