I know, this is a bold statement so let me share my thoughts as to why I disapprove of looking only at "high engagement".
Engagement is a big buzzword, and it's one of the main metrics that we, as community builders, measure our communities. High engagement from how I see it carries a price to our members. It takes a big toll, that this Harvard article has emphasized -the engaged-exhausted team members.
Asking our members to be highly engaged has a pitfall - It carries with it an expectation that there is one right way where members are expected to participate, a specific tempo or energy that people need to bring in to the community or organization.
I prefer to see engagement as A SLIDER.
MY SLIDER THEORY OF ENGAGEMENT, IN A NUTSHELL, IS THAT WE NEED TO PROVIDE DIFFERENTIATED MEANS FOR PEOPLE TO ENGAGE IN WAYS THAT ARE NURTURING FOR THEM. ENGAGEMENT MEANS EMPOWERING PEOPLE TO INTENTIONALLY ENGAGE IN WAYS THAT ARE REGENERATIVE AND BASED ON THE DEPTH AND BREADTH THAT IS POSSIBLE FOR THEM AT A GIVEN MOMENT.
Differentiation in the field of education is a framework or philosophy to enable students of all levels to attain their full potential. Differentiation means providing a diverse classroom of learners a range of different avenues for understanding new information to acquire content; process, construct, or make sense of ideas; and develop teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students can learn effectively, regardless of differences in their ability.
Differentiated engagement in the context of community involves providing different avenues for people to engage in ways that are regenerative. This means being able to intentionally decide what form of engagement would best suit the person on a given moment that allows for varying breadth, depth and focus.
In the article, they mentioned, "smart engagement". I do believe though that the term “smart engagement” is better replaced with “intentional engagement”.
What are we intentionally saying yes to?
Where do we intentionally draw our boundaries?
How are we providing different opportunities for people to engage based on the depth and breadth of what is possible for them?
And how are we intentionally creating the structures that would provide the resources needed by engaged members?
There are so many factors to consider when a person engages in something- be it work or personal reasons. It goes deeper than being smart- it is a state of being where we can stand firmly on our “Full yes” whatever those yes may be given our current states, our personalities, our resources (time, energy, finances, social capital).
High engagement should not be the metrics of success rather we need to look at Intentional engagement.
Article I referenced to: https://hbr.org/2018/02/1-in-5-highly-engaged-employees-is-at-risk-of-burnout?