Engaging Employees with Mastery


For the past several months I have been teaching my teenager how to drive.  
My role is clear.  It’s more than just keeping her company in the passenger seat. It’s providing clear objectives and timely feedback.  

My daughter is expecting me to let her know when she’s too close to the line. When her speed sags below the limit, she’d appreciate a reminder. As she parks in the shopping center, she’s looking for advice on how to improve.  

How would she ever hope to get better if I just went along for the ride?  She’d probably feel overwhelmed, frustrated, isolated and resentful. It would seem absurd for me to coach with my mouth clothes, wouldn’t it? Yet, this is par for the course in many organizations.  Where many employees get detailed feedback only 1-2 times a year.

Daniel Pink calls mastery the most important motivator. He describes it is as the urge to get better at a skill.  It’s also referred to as making progress in meaningful work. For employees to know they’re making progress, they need clear goals and timely & accurate feedback.  

Also Read: Engaging Employees with Autonomy

In order to help employees feel a sense of mastery, managers must do more.  More than just managing that is. They must also be coaches.

The coaching style is distinct in its focus on developing people for the future as managers help employees improve their performance and cultivate their long-term strengths.

Daniel Goleman

A good manager provides clear goals and objectives. They identify skills needed to succeed at attaining the goals. They provide feedback and encouragement all along the way.