The idea of employee engagement has become a hot topic yet largely elusive concept in recent years, popularized by the Gallup Organisation and their strengths based approach to talent development.
To deliver excellent outcomes, CEOs need to be able to encourage engagement at all levels of the organization on every task and project.
I know that sounds like a big ask. But how could you create a culture within your enterprise that consistently stimulates people to connect more deeply – with each other and with customers alike?
While change is driven from the top down, performance is driven from the bottom up. In order to get people in your organization fully engaged in a given task, project or program, you need to understand and skillfully manage peoples’ energy – individually and collectively.
According to The Power of Full Engagement, a book by Loehr & Schwartz, “To be fully engaged, we must be physically energised, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned.”
Full engagement with a task or project by all parties involved will always deliver a better outcome than disengagement, which will lead to stagnation, procrastination and under-performance.
As CEO, overseer of an organisation’s portfolio of projects, you want a fully engaged team. Now that we know exactly what engagement is, the skillful management of energy, let’s look at how to encourage engagement. As you read, don’t forget to encourage engagement in yourself, too!
6 Practical Ways to Encourage Engagement
Through creating clarity and fostering focus we’ve won over the minds of our team and developed a clearer idea of what and how we want to achieve our big picture goals and objectives. Now it’s time to win their hearts and get everyone “emotionally” on the same page.
To do so you can:
Listen – Ask key players in the team what they need in terms of documentation, resources, and time. You may need to do some financial modeling, analysis and forecast. Get everyone’s agreement, or as close to it as possible, considering all parties and their realistic needs. The more involved people feel, the more engaged they will be.
Build a Team – What skill sets are needed and who is best able to bring those to the table? Talk to the team/s and find out if they have everyone they need, and if they require any training or coaching to fill in knowledge and skill gaps. You’ll also want to clearly define roles and responsibilities at this stage.
Test & Try – It may be a good idea to get the entire team together, both to practice the task they’ll be performing and / or discuss the project. You need to iron out any differences from the get-go. Teams who have physically rehearsed together will work more efficiently and in sync with each other. This will be an essential step in getting everyone on the same page, feeling more deeply connected. Likewise, it gives team members who may not have worked together before a chance to bond and discuss ideas, plans and goals for the project to forge and envision common picture.
Get Commitment – You want everyone in a crucial role to fully commit to the project. There are different ways to do this, but linking it to personal achievement such as via promotion on a successful outcome, or through financial incentives, are popular ways to get key players fully engaged. You might find it helpful to explicitly align the project with the strategy of the enterprise and the personal values of individual team members, to offer them a way to connect the task or project with their own sense of purpose.
Budget Fairly – There’s nothing that will kill team spirit faster and cause team members to disengage more quickly than when management isn’t willing to provide what’s needed to get the job done. While every project has budget constraints, show your team that this project matters by putting your money where your mouth is and equipping them with what they actually need to get the job done to an excellent standard. Don’t think they don’t notice, they do. Showing you are committed will foster the same feeling in the team.
Discuss Deadlines – You’ll need to agree realistic milestones and deadlines with experienced team members. How long do they need to get the job done? Ask them about their previous experiences and get a firm commitment on the time scale of the project. Once a commitment has been made, check in at regular intervals to assess progress and discuss any course-corrections that need to be made.
By getting the whole team on the same page about these six crucial elements, you are encouraging engagement. Remember it’s your team who actually delivers the desired results, and there’s nothing more powerful than getting people to personally buy into the project by asking for their input and letting them know their opinions on these issues count.
Now let’s look at what you can do to encourage engagement in yourself.
Encouraging Engagement in Yourself
While it is crucial that a team needs to be engaged, it’s also essential that you stay engaged as CEO. Burnout, exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed are all causes of CEO disengagement. This can be prevented by doing the following:
- Take time out to realign. Take some time away from the front line to contemplate, relax, and think through your goals and plans. Re-engage with current projects by linking them to your long-term plans, and reminding yourself how they align with your values.
- Regular debriefing sessions. A business or executive coach can professionally help you make sense of your experiences of dealing with people in a way that consistently generates fresh insights into your leadership approach. This helps prevent complacency and is a sound investment.
- Delegate to capable individuals. It could be that you’re taking too much on yourself. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to disengagement. Can you delegate some tasks to capable and well-trained people? If not, can you bridge the gap and train someone?
- Evaluate sticky spots regularly. Is there a particular relationship at work, or a particular project which is causing you to disengage? Take the time to evaluate it and look at what is causing you to feel this way. Make a list of things you enjoy and things you don’t enjoy about this project or relationship. You’ll find whatever is causing you to feel disengaged lies on the ‘Don’t Enjoy’ side. You can then look at strategies for dealing with this.
- Remember where your power lies. There’s nothing that will cause you to disengage faster than feeling powerless over a situation. Write down all the possible ways to deal with whatever is causing you to disengage and pick a way to deal with it which uses the least resources and achieves the desired outcome. There’s almost always a way to fix something, and figuring it out and taking action, then watching the situation change, will cause you to re-engage with the task or project.
It’s important that everyone is deeply engaged, both with individual tasks and projects and the long-term goals and ambitions of an organisation, in today’s fast changing world.
Take the time to engage and re-engage team members whenever necessary, reminding them why “the work” is important – for themselves and others. Don’t forget to do the same for yourself. It’s easy to forget when you’re busy on the front lines, but it is critical that you also encourage engagement within yourself!
Better still, engage a masterful coach to help encourage you along the way, so that you more consistently encourage engagement throughout your organisation.
Explore Additional Resources:
- Article : The Making of a Corporate Athlete, by Loehr & Schwartz
- Book: The Power of Full Engagement, by Loehr & Schwartz
- Special Report: Why CEOs Fail, by Glenn A. Williams.
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