Engage Yourself – 4 Engagement Tips for Solo Workers 

Engage Yourself – 4 Engagement Tips for Solo Workers

There are four common characteristics of highly engaged organisations, according to Engage for Success, the national movement for employee engagement. Having recently left corporate life and started up my own business, I’ve found myself wondering if those characteristics still apply, even though I’m now an organisation of one. Given that employee engagement influences revenue, productivity & health and wellbeing (along with many other things) I’ve decided I definitely need a considered approach to my own engagement now that I work for myself!

The Four Enablers of Engagement are here, explained by David Macleod & Nita Clarke:

4 enablers from Engage for Success on Vimeo.

So – how do they apply to a one man band?

Strategic Narrative
This was a real eye opener for me. I realised that although I had a gut feeling about what I was intending with my business and where I wanted it and me to go, I couldn’t really articulate that to anyone else clearly.

I needed to take some time to look at my story, reflect on where I had come from and be far clearer about where I was going. I wasn’t really engaging myself with my own vision! D’oh! I’d done some initial work on a business plan, some further thinking while writing copy for my website, but it was all a bit sketchy.

I also realised that I didn’t want a detailed, month by month strategic plan – what I was needing here was the ‘elevator pitch’ that I’d give if I met myself in a lift. A vision that I could use to give strength and direction to myself when faced with the numerous choices that entrepreneurship throws up (like ‘do I do that job for free?’ and ‘is that organisation the right one to get involved with?’)

Tip: Take your business plan, your back of a fag packet sketch, the nebulous fog in the back of your mind (delete as appropriate) and turn it into 3 short sentences that remind you where you are going and why.

Engaging Managers
Are you taking care of your development? What skills do you need, what investment in your future?

In the formal structure of a corporate, development needs are usually considered on a regular basis, coaching takes place (in theory!) and we generally have a line manager looking out for us. I no longer have that structure (which in many ways was one of my reasons for leaving!) but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to think about the skills and strengths I have, where I’d like to develop and how I keep learning.

Tip: Schedule a regular one to one or performance review with yourself and have an honest conversation about what’s going well, what’s going badly and what you need to change, develop & invest in. Bonus tip: A mentor or a friend you trust to challenge and support you is also good for this!

Employee Voice
Are you giving yourself space to hear your own voice? Or, in my case, to realise what I wasn’t saying to myself!

I found myself removing a service I was intending to offer within a couple of weeks of my website going live, having realised that my procrastination around doing anything about it meant I didn’t really want to offer it. I just felt that I should, since I could. “Should” is the enemy of feeling engaged!

Tip: Build some regular reflection time into your diary. With a friend or by yourself (I also recommend good coffee as a vital part of this exercise) ask yourself these questions:

Am I avoiding anything?
What am I procrastinating about? Can I give myself permission to not do it?
What can I change?

This one is about values and behaviour. Do the values you have as an organisation, or in this case as an individual, match up with the way you behave?

Living and working in conflict with your values is known to cause stress and anxiety, as if running your own business wasn’t stressful enough!

Hurrah! I was a bit ahead with this one. Several years ago I did a Responsible Leadership course at Henley Business School and as part of that I did some work to establish my personal values. I revisit them every now and then, to check that they still resonate with me. I’ve found that they change in nuance over the years but still reflect my approach to life. I consciously refer to them at times of doubt and choice, they are a great reminder at times of stress of what I consider to be important in my life.

For reference, these are they:

Respect – for myself, for the people around me, and for the world as a whole
Curiosity – to never stop exploring, learning, growing and being interested
Delight – to always look to find pleasure and satisfaction in the little things of life

Tip: Spend some time to work out your values. Print them out, write them down, stick ‘em on the fridge. Use them to guide your decision making.

So, I’ve accepted a responsibility to make sure I’m engaging myself, energising myself and putting me and my business in a position to grow. No one else is going to do it for me!

How do you engage yourself? Please share your tips with me – I’m curious…


Cathy Brown is a speaker, catalyser & energiser with Capability Brown and Engage for Success.

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