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The links between personal success and employee engagement levels

June 12, 2011

I was recently catching up on some reading, wading my way through journals and newsletters sat in an ever growing pile on my desk. I came across something entitled ‘The Principles of Success: What positive psychology tells us about achievement, happiness and well-being’ by Professor Jordan. Of course, there has been a wave of interest in positive psychology over the past 10 years or so, with studies looking into the most successful people and what makes them stand out, what do they do that’s different. Anyway, Professor Jordan outlined five key principles of success, and I was struck by the fact that there is probably a link between personal success and employee engagement levels.

Principle 1: Take Responsibility

‘The most successful people are those who see themselves being in control of their own lives’. As long as we ensure that we play a role in our success then this will enhance the success of an organisation. By taking the initiative to get things done rather than waiting for others is one principle that sets successful people apart from others. In terms of employee engagement, we often think of this as going the extra mile, taking responsibility for tasks and ensuring that they are completed.

Principle 2: Set Goals

It is so important to set specific measurable goals, not just in our personal lives but in the workplace too. Those who set goals at work are able to create a vision and mission for their careers and business. This can be thought of as a personal principle, but can also be widened to management, as those who set goals for their employees, outline where they are going and how to get there tend to be the most engaged and obtain the most engagement from their teams.

Principle 3: Be Positive

According to Prof. Jordan, ‘success is more strongly linked with our attitude than with anything else’. When we are optimistic then we will be more motivated to ensure that the required effort is extended to achieve our goals. In addition, the more positive we are the more positive those around us are likely to be. We know that positive managers foster increased morale and those with clear goals often have high functioning teams, so in this sense employee engagement should also result.

Principle 4: Persevere Intelligently

Prof. Jordan claims that ‘however positive our thoughts are, it is our actions which will ultimately determine whether we succeed or not’. Therefore, we need to ensure that we follow a clear action plan with concerted action, where we persevere when the going gets tough. Again, the holy grail of employee engagement is not easy and so persevering and selecting an appropriate course of action is imperative to ensure that others join you in the organisations quest for improved organisation performance.

Principle 5: Connect with others

It is imperative to have positive relationships with others at work in order to succeed on both an individual and business level. An organisation that fosters positive relationships, good teamworking and good atmosphere is likely to be more effective and profitable, plus have lower turnover of staff and absenteeism. One of the key drivers of employee engagement is relationships at work.

It is really interesting to note the parallels of the principles of success and high levels of employee engagement. It is no great surprise really, as if there are more successful people in an organisation this is likely to lead to greater levels of employee engagement. So, if we can find a way to ensure all employees, or at the very least all managers, focus on an individual basis on the five key principles of success this should create a greater level of employee engagement all round – from the top levels right through to the grass roots, better relationships with others, setting clear goals, being positive and taking responsibility should all lead to a better place to work.


Jordan, P. (2010). The Principles of Success: What positive psychology tells us about achievement, happiness and well-being. British Psychological Society South West Review, Winter p10-12

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