People want to be engaged, just not at work. Think about it. People are fully engaged with the sports teams that they favor.

In last week's NBA Championship between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the home arenas were super charged with visuals and deafening noise. Most fans never sat down while chanting DEFENSE or cheering in celebration of a turnover and a fast break dunk.

And, it is not just in sports that people get this engaged. Watch a couple having an intense conversation at dinner, or concert goers singing and moving to the entire set of well-known songs.

The same is true for a good book that slowly reveals a captivating story. A just-before-bed read can easily turn into a 3 am reading marathon for the book you just can't put down. All of these things are true engagement in action.

The secret to get this level of engagement at work isn't that elusive. In fact, what has really happened at most of our companies is we have forgotten that "human beings work here" and as human beings we respond very positively when four conditions are present.

Here are the four "People Want Tos" you can leverage to immediately change the way your people show up - and engage - at work.

People want to:

1. Be Part of Something Bigger Than Themselves

Most truly engaged and successful entrepreneurs, leaders, teams, and individuals spend time on things bigger than themselves. The simple reality is that they are less interested in themselves and much more interested in the world around them.

They have discovered that the root of engagement is not to finding yourself, but losing yourself in a cause you are prepared to fight for, a commitment to a problem that has defied a solution, or engaging in an organization with a purpose you can believe in.

As a leader, few things are more important than defining a "purpose" your people can embrace for getting them as jazzed at work as they are for a championship playoff. The power of purpose can't be underestimated in its ability to mobilize people to engage in, and voluntarily bring forth, their effort to lead change.

2. Feel a Sense of Belonging

When people don't feel like they belong or that they are valued, they will spend all their time trying to create value for themselves (to validate their personal value to the group) rather than build it for their team or organization.

Make sure that people know how important they are to your future success. A great leader is one that causes people to have these three feelings: It starts with,

- "I am valued",

- "My work matters",

- and "We can't win without my contributions."

3. Go on a Meaningful Adventure

Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." Some of the most well-known and loved stories of all time are adventures--like Star Wars, Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Rings, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A meaningful adventure is a journey that has elements of risk, challenge, excitement, suspense, unknown outcomes and a prize size that makes it worth the effort. This doesn't mean you can get away with putting it all in a strategy slide deck of an Annual Operating Plan (AOP) and calling it a day. That's the boring stuff.

In truth, there is more drama and risk in most companies than the highest rated reality TV shows, but the real adventure is steamrolled by sterilized presentations and outcome metrics that are yawners for most people.

What is the adventure that you want to take your people on? Does it have an embedded purpose? Does it test their limits, strengths, will and skill with adversity? Does it reign victorious for a better world and workplace?

4. Know How Their Contributions Make a Difference in the Life of Another Human Being

The complexity, specialty and fragmentation of work has so separated the creator from the recipient that we have lost the ability to see how what we do is received by others.

The opportunity is simple -- take your people to see the impact and consequences of their work. Let them meet and hear the results of their efforts.

This human connection works for the housekeeper at the hotel to the guest, the airplane engine manufacturer to the pilot, or the travel agent to the traveler. The nobility of serving comes across loud and clear when you see the affect of what they do on the life of another human being.

How do you drive engagement in your organization? Tell us in the comments! We love a good #engagement story!

 

 

Published on: Jun 21, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.