Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Create Engagement Through Involvement

In our last few blogs, we’ve been talking about the concept of employee engagement and how valuable it can be to your organization. If you think back to your early years on the job, you were likely highly engaged, at least when you started out. You were eager to jump into the work, anxious to impress your new boss, and wanted to fit in with the other employees. The question becomes, how long did that eagerness last? How long was it before you realized that your eagerness was not truly appreciated by your boss or by your coworkers? How long until you placed more value on blending in than on being the best?

From my personal experience I believe that for most people disengagement, the art of not caring about your job or your company, is a learned behavior. When we first start working we really want to care, but we learn from our boss and our peers that this trait, this eagerness, is not truly appreciated in the workplace. Over time, we begin to accept this as the truth and incorporate it into our daily behaviors.

The same is true for your employees. They likely learned fairly early in their careers that the best way to get along was to go along.

Here’s the good news.

Since disengagement is a learned behavior it can be unlearned as well. The trick is in how you “teach” your employees that it is ok to be engaged.

The process of integrating engagement into your organization requires a significant amount of work for you and your leadership team. And, it starts with honesty about what you are trying to accomplish and why. You will need to build trust with your team and give them a reason to believe in you and what you are saying. To engage your team, you need to be fully committed to the concept of employee engagement. You need to be willing to encourage and accept their ideas and suggestions, be open in your communication about what is and what is not working, and, most importantly, you need to convince them that this idea is not the “leadership fad of the month” but a concept that is here for the long term.

Here is my suggestion for getting the engagement ball rolling in your organization. Start by identifying the biggest challenge that you are facing. Then, call a meeting of key people who are involved in this challenge and who should most want to see it solved. Once that team is assembled, explain the problem to them and ask them how they would solve this problem.

Isn’t that easy?

Here comes the hard part.

As the group begins to provide comments or give feedback, you need to encourage them to tell you more. You want them to believe that it is ok to be open and that their thoughts are welcome. That means putting aside your natural tendency to critique their ideas and, instead, encouraging them to expound on them. Focus on what IS possible from their suggestions and not the pitfalls. Encourage them to build upon each other’s ideas so that they build a solution together.

And then you have to implement their solution.

I told you it wouldn’t be easy.

We’ll talk more about how to build your engaged organization in future issues.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
•Your Company Culture
•The Leadership Styles of your key managers
•The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    I think you nailed it squarely, when you advise getting suggestions from your employees and then...implementing those the best one. Too often organizations stifle or discourage suggestions.

    Keep banging the drum