Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Are There Skeptics in Your Organization?

In our last few blogs, we’ve been talking about the concept of employee engagement. And, in last week’s post we talked about the first steps in moving your team from where they are today to being a more highly engaged team. Asking the people who deal with the problem every day how to solve that problem is a great way to begin to engage your team. Full engagement does not happen overnight or through a single exercise. But, if you engaged your team to solve the problem, you likely saw an inkling of the power that an engaged workforce brings to the organization. They say that two heads are better than one. Imagine if everyone in your organization brought their best thoughts to solving your problems. Can you imagine the power of that organization?

As I noted above, full engagement does not happen overnight. But, if you engaged your team in the problem solving exercise we discussed last week, you took the first step to engage your team. I would expect that your first attempt at employee engagement met with limited success. You probably engaged a few employees and got some excellent feedback, but you also noticed that most of your employees did not engage. Instead, they watched and observed but didn’t fully participate.

This is a natural reaction to this kind of a shift in thinking from management and demonstrates a lack of trust. They heard the words, but they weren’t sure what was going to happen next. They believed that the best thing for them to do, the safest thing for them to do, and the easiest thing for them to do, was to do nothing. By doing nothing they limit their exposure and don’t set themselves up for a major psychological letdown. In fact, I would guess that, based on the size of your organization, you found some people who were not only skeptical, but actually mocked the idea and those who participated. These people have been well trained that being disengaged and not caring is the easiest way to stay employed and out of the line of fire.

Fully engaging your team means changing the mindset and culture of the organization to one that encourages creativity, rewards risk taking, and promotes open communication. For many organizations, this represents a major cultural shift in the way that people think. That goes for changing the minds of the skeptics as well as those who fully participated. And that is why it is so important that you implemented the solution your team came up with, regardless of what you really thought of it. Failing to implement the team’s solution leaves the skeptics free to say, “I knew this was not real. Management doesn’t really care what we know or think. This is just the latest management fad of the month.” Implementing the solution from your team does not eliminate the skeptics but, rather, it begins to crack the façade that they have built up. Permanently knocking down that wall will take time and effort. And, it may even cost you a few employees along the way. But it will be worth it in the long run.

The biggest “cost” of implementing a culture that encourages employee engagement is the mental and emotional stress that it might cause you personally. We are talking about moving from a culture where you were the center of attention – the person with all the answers – to an employee-centric culture where the emphasis is on the strengths of the employees.

We’ll talk more about implementing that culture in our next issue.

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

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