How is it possible that companies’ engagement scores can be affected by how our parents behaved towards us?
Transactional Analysis (TA to its adherents) is a psychological idea that humans are social creatures and that a person is a multi-faceted being that changes when in contact with another person in their world. Basically the theory is that we behave in a way that would get us love, attention (which can also be negative attention or “strokes” as is called in TA) from our parents. This is all we seek as a child, approval or love or “stroke” of our parents — and this defines who we are in our adult lives, unless we evolve, challenge our behavior and change in areas we need to change.
How does this happen then? Say when you were a child and you got 90% on an exam and your parents asked you where you lost the 10 points from. Or if you did actually get 100% but this time they asked what the average in the class was (insinuating that maybe it was too easy to get 100%). Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you were one of the many children who grew up as perfectionists/control freaks. Don’t worry because most of us are that way, and it is both treatable and coachable. What happens is that people like us (YES I am included although my grades were never really that good in the first place) tend not to appreciate ourselves for the things that we do well. We tend to see them as our “job”. But when we make a mistake, however small it maybe, we punish ourselves in many ways, endlessly and more cruelly than anyone else would…This unfortunately leads to us not appreciating or acknowledging others as well.
Over the past years, I have noticed that one of the main factors leading to low employee engagement scores in companies is lack of acknowledgement. If we cannot acknowledge ourselves we cannot acknowledge others either. We may think we say the right words but our eyes and tone of voice give us away even in those rare moments that we do. And as I tell my clients, acknowledgement is FREE! So there is really no budget excuse for refraining from it. All the same for those of us who have not acknowledged ourselves much, it can be difficult to start acknowledging ourselves and others at first, but once we get a sense of it, it is very fulfilling and has a ripple effect on the people we work with: direct reports, peers and our leaders. As professionals climb up the ladders and become higher executives, VPs, or CXO level, they become even less acknowledged; most of us may think it is rude to acknowledge them, or that they already know that they are good or great or that others may make fun of us for doing so.
If you identify with this, ask yourself: “Have I acknowledged myself lately? Have I acknowledged anyone in my life these days?” If not, go ahead and do it! And I acknowledge you for that :)