Skill Mastery

3 Ways to Increase Engagement through Skill Mastery

By George Dickson on July 01, 2015

Mastering a skill is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world. Just knowing that you can do even one thing extraordinarily well is remarkably motivating.

Whether that skill is a hobby you participate in or a skill at work, mastering it taps into a deep and powerful reservoir of intrinsic motivation.

While mastery is valued by most organizations, it's often seen as a sign of motivation and engagement, and overlooked as a motivational tool. Here's the secret though:

Skill mastery is infinitely more powerful than any ping pong table or free lunch you can provide.

So how can you harness this powerful motivator? Here are three ways to do it:

1. Provide/subsidize learning opportunities

Give employees access to as much knowledge and training as you can. The internet makes it easier than it ever has been before. Someone wants to take an hour out of their workday to attend a webinar related to their field? That's great!

That desire to learn shows two priceless traits: initiative, and a genuine interest in the subject matter they're tasked with understanding.

Don't worry about the extra hour spent away from the task at hand. Abraham Lincoln had a great quote:

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Giving employees the means and the motive to 'sharpen their axe,' is a sound investment because it continues to pay dividends into the future.

2. Recognize skill mastery

It's equally important to recognize the effort an employee invests in mastering a skill. If you want to inspire engagement, don't let these invaluable skill improvements go unnoticed. Show employees how much you and your organization appreciate their desire to master a skill.

Here's why it's so crucial:

If the intrinsic motivation inspired by skill mastery is the smoldering coals in the fire of employee engagement, recognition is gasoline.

If recognizing every small improvement an employee makes sounds daunting, don't worry — you don't always have to be the only one giving recognition. In fact, you shouldn't if you want it to work effectively.

It's much easier to ensure employees are being recognized for their skill mastery when everyone is involved in the process. Empower and encourage everyone to give recognition as a natural part of your company culture. It's incredibly valuable for an employee to understand that their colleagues also value their skills.

3. Reward skill improvements

You can compound the effect of recognition by rewarding employees who show the initiative to master skills, and make it visible.

You won't only be encouraging the employees who are receiving those rewards -- by showing the value you place on skill mastery, you're giving the entire team a clear understanding that this is something your organization values and rewards. You're also giving them clear mastery goals to work toward.

Skill mastery is a valuable achievement worth supporting, recognizing, and rewarding. It's also an important element of overall employee engagement. If you need a tool to help recognize and reward employees for improving their skills, you can try Bonusly for free.

Written by George Dickson

George Dickson

George manages content and community at Bonusly. He's dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures through thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition.