From Employee Engagement, to Personal Engagement, to Fulfilment: A Journey Towards Self-Determination

It seems only yesterday that the working world discovered and labeled the phrase Employee Engagement, and held it up as the panacea for productivity, morale building and increased profitability or organisational success. The fact that decades have now passed, and the performance needle has barely moved as a result of Measuring Engagement & Associated Engagement Programmes creates a powerful series of questions: What went wrong? What are we missing? Why is Engagement simply not enough?

The following research paper provides many valuable insights and explanations regarding the shortcomings of the Engagement Paradigm:

As one of the world’s leading providers of Employee Engagement Programmes, Gallup has advocated its Q12 measurement tool over many years, made famous by several best selling books including First, Break All the Rules originally by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman; 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James Harter; and most recently with It’s the Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter. The Q12 offers a simple and widely tested tool for measuring engagement but more importantly, captures the critical topics for discussion between a Manager and Employee, or even across a Team’s Culture. Unfortunately the tool continues to take a ‘top down’ approach to management, that is to say, the manager, representing the organisation, ‘knows best’ and is there to shape the resources, information and needs of the individual.

I have found over many years of leading these kind of Engagement programmes that another approach can add substantial value to the relationship between an employee and the organisation to which they belong. Personal Engagement relies much more on the independence and autonomy of the individual, and helps them determine their own needs and motivators toward personal success, aligned with the organisations objectives.

Inspired by Gallup’s Q12 framework, I have used the following coaching questions with Leaders and Followers at all levels of an organisation to lift.

Personal Engagement:

  1. What is your most inspiring AND important goal right now?
  2. What resources AND resourcefulness do you need to achieve your goal?
  3. How will your Strengths and natural talent help you achieve your goal?
  4. How will you celebrate (and with who!) when your goal is accomplished?
  5. Who else cares deeply about and can contribute to your goal?
  6. What new skills/knowledge do you need to develop in order to achieve your goal?
  7. Whose opinion or advice might you seek to accelerate your goal?
  8. How does your goal align with your own personal Purpose AND the Purpose of your organisation?
  9. What new standard will you set or maintain while completing your goal?
  10. Why will your best friend(s) at work and in life support you unconditionally, even if you fail?
  11. How will you measure your progress?
  12. What will you learn / how will you grow by achieving this goal? / What will you learn even if you fail?

My own belief and experience suggests that even Personal Engagement is not enough to shift the dial in terms of organisational and individual performance. Human beings are complex, emotional beings and we are all on a journey to experience Success, Happiness and Fulfilment over the course of our lifetimes. To simplify Personal Engagement even further, I now use the following framework of questions to inspire my family, friends and clients:


  • What is your Greatest Imaginable Challenge? (At the junction of your Passions, what you Do Best, and where you add most Value to yourself and others?)
  • What do you need to leverage (talent, time, resources, people etc.) to achieve your Greatest Imaginable Challenge?


  • What are you deeply grateful for right now?
  • What were your top 5 happiest moments in life, and how will you create your next 5?


  • What were you born to do and be?
  • What problem(s) are you here to solve (that only you can contribute to)?

Given all of the above, it seems that we are all experiencing an awakening, motivated by our search for identity and self-determination. At any given moment, Employee Engagement, Personal Engagement or investing in Success, Happiness and Fulfilment might be the key to unlocking both individual and organisational potential. The ‘magic’ is in determining which tool should be used in which circumstance.

Life is Short – Dream Big – Live Your Dreams


About the author

Christopher Miller

Christopher Miller

I am passionate about helping and inspiring small business owners to create their purpose, live their values and experience success, happiness and fulfilment by owning a business they can be proud of.
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