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The Inside Out Approach To Employee Engagement Part 2

Miss Part 1? Just head here. 

Beyond the HR leader understanding inside out for themselves, we recommend that the HR team utilize this knowledge to shift the Employee Engagement paradigm.  When people in the workforce learn and understand the nature of true wisdom and that it is available to all of us, and they understand how the mind works and what to do about it, they have access to freedom and power that before alluded them.

Whether it be personal or business life, when employees learn that their feelings and mood are in their own control, they naturally spend less time suffering.

Every human on the face of the earth lives in their own realities. It would be impossible for any of us to understand what someone else is thinking and why they think that way. The only way to unlock the key to someone else’s thoughts is to ask them what is going on with them. Only when we get curious about another do we have access to their reality, and only when we have access to their reality can we step in and serve.

Understanding the inside-out approach, and teaching it those that work in our organizations, allows for people to dismantle their interpretation of what happened or what someone said or did and objectively look at the situation with an unbiased point of view.  Much like the beginner’s mind in Buddhism, approaching a situation without patterned conditioning allows people to begin again from a space of neutrality. While this can be challenging to a humans’ senses, once a person realizes that their thinking is causing them to feel bad, they have the power to choose a new thought, and look at a person or a situation with new eyes.

Inside-out does not preclude us from being an advocate, or from having compassion and caring for people. It does enable you to shift your listening and pursuant behavior from reacting to the upset individual in a habitual manner and jumping to a forgone conclusion about who or what is wrong and who or what is right.

Tap Into Your Innate Wisdom

The Inside Out approach guides you to slow down, tap into your inner guidance system and turn on your innate curiosity with regards to the person/people and situation.  Stephen Covey, and his seven habits rocked the world with his “Seek to Understand” habit, and inside-out allows us to make it happen.

When you put aside your sensory perceptions and familiar thought patterns; you are much more likely to ask open-ended questions, dig deeper and thoroughly understand the facts surrounding the employee relations issue.  You may even uncover that the person in front of you is responding to their interpretation of what happened, rather than what really happened.  We often lose sight of the fact that there are many unique versions of reality in the workplace, and with each unique version is a story and emotions that come along for the ride.

Fact finding becomes really easy when you operate with a deep knowing of the inside out principles, and you are conscious of your own habitual ways of responding to upsets in the workplace.  When you set aside your reactionary patterns and turn on your curiosity, you will experience a deeper level of compassion for the people who work to serve your organization.

Stop Operating on Autopilot

Most, if not all of us, operate on automatic pilot making our way through the workday. Your people wake up into the drift of life, get ready, walk to their desk or drive to work, deal with the traffic or the coffee maker, replay everything that happened yesterday that they liked or did not like and walk into their workday ready to navigate the day and do it again.

Automatic pilot does not mean they are all asleep at the wheel. For many, it means they have nailed down an operating persona that is their work way of being and they execute accordingly. On autopilot, they go through the day looking for familiarity, give knowledge when they see it is needed, get work done and stay out of or make (depending on the MO) trouble. It is not until someone or something grabs their attention that they focus, drop into a presence and allow themselves to access their highest level of intelligence.

When Shift Happens

The only way to shift our people from adrift to present is to give them something to engage in that stimulates their need to serve. When the purpose and passion are absent from an organization, it is the Leader who can cause shift to happen. However, many leaders retract when they think about going to the CEO, and sharing their concerns about a lack of purpose and meaning. Alternatively, when the heart of the HR leader is in the right place; when they are grounded in their purpose and they choose to put their fearful thinking aside; their innate wisdom emerges. They speak through their common sense and communicate what the CEO needs to know.

When the communication comes from the place of contribution and wisdom, the connection between the speaker and the listener is powerful. The relationship the HR leader has with the CEO is established as a partnership and the CEO has a new level of respect and appreciation for the HR leader and the power of the HR function. When the HR person is clear, and understands the pervasive and systemic impacts of a lack of purpose on the business the CEO listens, hears and is grateful for the courageous, authentic, compassionate communication.

Employee Engagement from the Inside-Out

An inside-out approach to employee engagement continues with an inside-out philosophy to work and life.

Studies from The American Institute of Stress report that nearly 80% of employees feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need support in learning to manage that stress. Reports also indicate that employees feel their on the job stress leads to their depression and anxiety outside of the workplace.

To add fuel to the fire, the majority of workers in Managerial and Executive roles struggle to get enough sleep and exercise, which directly impacts their ability to deal with job stressors, creatively engage their people and intuitively solve problems. One of the implications of employees’ inability to manage their stress in the workplace is increased unwanted employee turnover, lower personal and organizational performance and increased employee job-hopping. Each time, employees hope the next company, boss, situation will be different, only to find themselves in the same repetitive experience.

If we want to engage the hearts and heads of our workforce we need to  train our people to understand the inside-out nature of life and work so they can adjust the way they think, react, and navigate through work and life. When our employees understand how the mind works, they can begin to take responsibility for their own happiness at work and in their lives.

When we teach our employees and managers how the mind works, and how thoughts and emotions hi-jack our attention and take us off course, our employees begin to understand what true empowerment really is, and what to do about it. When our employees learn that we all live in our own versions of reality and apply that concept to work, they are better equipped to seek to understand what is being asked of them and what might need to be done better to fulfill the need.

When managers understand that each of their employees comes to work with a wall of thought consuming their mind share, they learn to be more curious when interacting with the people on their team. When the managers are conscious of the cycle of thought impacting them personally, this awareness encourages them to take extra time to make sure they are present and paying attention.  Additionally, this awareness and a desire to improve, gives the manager the capacity to go the extra step and ensure that their communication is heard, understood and is landing effectively to the people they are guiding.

When we teach all members of the workforce about subjective reality, mirror neurons and how our preconceived notions and paradigms reflect images in the environment back to us based on what we think we see, (based on our existing thought patterns) our team members are more equipped to stop pointing the finger at everyone else and turn the attention back on themselves. When all employees, from the front line through executive leadership, have access to courageously question themselves and their workplace behaviors, they are more empowered to shift their reaction to perceived threats into a mindful, proactive response.

When people know that they are only one thought away from happiness at any moment in time, and that thoughts, like clouds, endlessly stream through their heads, they have the opportunity to choose not to react to their thoughts like they are real.


Teaching your people a Response Agile approach of navigating through upsets and challenges at work is a powerful way to instill courage and engagement, and break through the malaise of making it through another day.

If you’re ready for your people to achieve a higher level of engagement, performance and innovation, watch our FREE on-demand webinar: MOMENTUM – Breakthrough Results for Remote Teams. 


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