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Involvement and Contribution - 2 February 2012

Did you know extensive research indicates that every hour of TV you watch cuts approximately 22 minutes from your lifespan? That was the finding from a study of 11,000 adults released last year by the University of Queensland. The professors discovered that excessive television is just as bad as smoking and obesity, and sometimes worse.

But this sedentary behaviour is also associated with kids. Many different universities have conducted studies that demonstrate the impact on children when they’re raised in environments devoid of activity and interaction. For example, major research published by the American Psychological Association shows that kids who watch too much TV and play too many video games are more aggressive and lack empathy.

But this sedentary behaviour is also associated with employees. The people in your team belong in this category if they come to work every day and just sit behind a computer screen. Sure, they might be working, but there’s a chance their brain is on autopilot, neither thinking nor unthinking. Just merely existing and going through the motions.

Here’s why this is a problem. That autopilot mentality perpetuates lethargy and makes it difficult for colleagues to collaborate. It depletes people of enthusiasm and of the energy they need to overcome crises. They react slowly to urgency, and that’s because their brain isn’t stimulated enough. Basically, their cognition is out of practice.

Encouraging their involvement and contribution is the answer. You can do this via what’s known as the seven intelligences (listed below), which were developed at Harvard University. The challenge for you would be to identify which of these is dominant in each employee, and then incorporate a little more of that intelligence whenever you can within their role.

Linguistic people enjoy writing, reading and telling stories. They express themselves using creative language and remember words rather than statistics.

Logical-Mathematical people love solving problems, analysing processes, and developing strategies. They think rationally, notice trends easily, and appreciate science.

Bodily-Kinesthetic people like working with their hands and bodies, such as dancing and woodworking. They feel uncomfortable sitting in an office unless there’s lots of movement.

Spatial people are visual in nature, and they think in symbols and images. They’re able to look at the layout of an area, such as a workplace, and spot better ways of working.

Musical people are excellent listeners and usually pay attention to sounds that others miss. Unsurprisingly, they work more effectively when they’re surrounded by music.

Interpersonal people prioritise relationships and relish being leaders. They seek to understand the needs and motivators of others. Collaboration is important to them.

Intrapersonal people are reflective and self-motivated. They place a lot of value on understanding themselves, such as their own feelings and fears.

Consider each of those to be a different channel. For every employee, one or two will stimulate their interest. Depending on your workplace, some might be easier to implement than others, and if any are tough to put in place, it could be a sign the employee is in the wrong job. Regardless, find out which channel engages each employee and switch it on … before they switch off.

 

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