The five keys to unlocking the power of employee engagement are Meaning, Autonomy, GROWTH, Impact, and Connection (ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®). Download this PDF that dives into how GROWTH drives employee engagement. The PDF will help explain:

  • Growth is about challenge and trying new things in order to progress professionally and personally.
  • It’s a universal human need and that’s not necessarily linked to advancement or job promotion.
  • Organizations must carefully balance challenges that stimulate and excite while not pushing employees into anxiety and apprehension.
  • Growth consists of beneficial stress (eustress) or harmful stress (distress).
  • People tend to deliver their best when their best is required.
  • Who tends to resist growth opportunities?
  • Zero growth opportunities equals disengagement, apathetic employees, and attrition.
  • Consistent growth opportunities will cause most people to engage in their work.

GROWTH is one of the Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement. It is being stretched and challenged in ways that result in personal and professional progress.

Words associated with GROWTH:

  • Becoming
  • Reach
  • Learning
  • Expanding
  • Goals
  • Developing
  • Accomplishment
  • Innovation
  • Improvement
  • Progress
  • Adapting
  • Confidence

People crave work experiences that challenge their minds and their skills, that are intellectually stimulating, and that offer them the chance to rise to the occasion and excel. People, in general, not only want challenge—they need challenge.

GROWTH isn’t (always) about advancement. It doesn’t necessarily equal promotion or a better parking space. GROWTH is a Delicate Balance.

Increased responsibility can be a source of growth, but you can push a person too far into unknown territory, which ultimately creates stress.

The Zone of Proximal Development is the difference between what a person can do without help and what they can do with the aid of a teacher, coach, or mentor. Like a Balloon, growth and challenge cause us to stretch and expand. Too much pressure, and BANG!

Beneficial Stress challenges us to achieve and deliver. We grow. Unhealthy Stress damages interpersonal relationships, impairs logic, and causes us to underachieve. We stagnate. We disengage.

Eustress is healthy stress, such as that experienced by an athlete as she approaches the starting line of the 400-meter finals. Distress is unhealthy stress, that can be expressed in one of two ways: continual high levels of anxiety, or withdrawal and depression.


  • Challenge
  • Excitement
  • Stimulation
  • Achievement
  • Pride
  • Resilience
  • Confidence
  • Hope


  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Embarrassment
  • Doubt
  • Tension
  • Blaming
  • Paralysis
  • Despair

Why Some People Don’t Grow

We think we’re better than we are. We don’t grow because we already think we’ve arrived. We tend to overestimate our positive qualities and capabilities while underestimating our negative qualities. We surround ourselves with people who support and reinforce our self-concept, and avoid potential criticism by creating a circle of people who tell us only what we want to hear. Unskilled individuals mistakenly believe their ability to be much higher than it actually is.

Grow or Go

When Growth Opportunities are Absent
You get stagnation, boredom, and attrition. Indifference sets in. Errors happen. Quality drops. Innovation grinds to a halt. Lack of Opportunity is the number-one reason that employees leave a company. The Fear of Growing Employees is that by helping employees develop professionally, they’ll leave to greener pastures.

Help Them Grow, Watch Them Go.
Would you rather have unmotivated, unskilled people, numbed by routine or enthusiastic, energized employees who are growing.


“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing time… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. In other words, we’re most engaged not when we’re kicking back but when we’re kicking butt.”

ENGAGEMENT MAGIC: Five Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations

Most people aspire to some kind of flow, the proficiency to perform a task so well and with such enjoyment that effort is pleasurable and time seems to fly by.

Steps to Obtain FLOW

1. Unconscious Incompetence

You don’t know what you don’t know. You take up a project, hobby, or other pursuit in complete ignorance, unable to see all that you need to learn.

2. Conscious Incompetence

After a brief honeymoon period, reality sets At this stage, you can see how much you have to learn, and hopefully you have the resources, help, and encouragement to accomplish it.

3. Conscious Competence

You’re not yet fluid or reflexive. You’re learning and getting repetitions, but everything requires thought and conscious effort.

4. Unconscious Competence

This is mastery. This is where flow occurs. You skip the basics and experiment and innovate in real time.

How to Foster Growth in Your Organization

Provide Mentors

Make it clear that experienced people are available and willing to offer their wisdom.

Create a “Build-the-Resume” Culture

Help your people add a line to their resume every year. Provide ample resources to develop a wide range of additional skills relevant to their professional lives.

Create a “Fail Forward” Culture

Remove the threat of punishment for failure.

Create a High Expectations

People will perform better when they are subject to higher expectations. Believing in your people and demanding their best doesn’t cost much. But the payoff can change everything.

And that’s GROWTH—one of the critical keys to employee engagement.

Read more about growth and the other four keys of employee engagement in, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC: Five Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations