Increasing Engagement: The Power of Choice

Increasing Engagement

How do you increase engagement in your team or your clients? How do you get people to commit more? How do you encourage people to put in more effort? These are the sort of concerns that have troubled managers, coaches and trainers from all sectors. The solutions have often been complex and time consuming with the results often being disappointing.

So is there anything that is proven to work on increasing engagement? Well exercise psychologists from the University of  Nevada (Wulf et al.) may well have found a simple way to do it. They found that if you give people an incidental choice in what they are supposed to be engaged in they will be more engaged in it and put in more effort.

Wulf et al. studied whether individuals’ motivation to exercise could be increased by providing them with an incidental choice.  They observed two groups of participants performing four exercises (lunges, jumping jacks, bear crawls and medicine-ball throws). After a demonstration of each exercise, one group was given the opportunity to choose the order of exercises, while the other group performed them in a pre-determined order that they had no choice in. Subsequently, all participants decided how many sets and repetitions of each exercise they wanted to complete.

The results showed a clear difference between the groups. The group that was given the choice performed a significantly greater number of total repetitions of all exercises than the other group.

Although this study looked at increasing engagement in exercise, the results could have an important message for all disciplines. The findings suggest that by giving people an incidental choice gives the individual a sense of autonomy which can positively affects their engagement. Greater levels of engagement led to greater effort, motivation and better results. Just the kind of response managers, coaches and trainers yearn for.


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