Turning your staff from obedient partners into active participants

But engaging your staff and turning them from ‘obedient partners’ into ‘active participants’ is actually quite simple (I can hear you screaming “it may be for you, but it’s certainly not for me” from here!).

To help you out, below are three simple tips that will show you how to turn a fundamentally passive company into the very personification of engagement.

The good thing is that it’s never too late to turn a passive workforce into an inspired and motivated team of go-getters. Even if it sometimes feels like it, all is not lost.

Creating active participants

1. Explain what you’re doing. People, i.e. your staff, will generally only engage in something fully or carry it out correctly if they understand why they’re doing it. It’s one thing to tell someone what to do but it’s another thing entirely to explain why they’re being asked to do it and what the impact of their actions is. When we understand, we are much more compliant and also much more productive. This is without doubt one of the most common failures I see in the businesses I have worked with, no matter how large or small they are. Too many people just don’t have a proper understanding of what’s going on and why they’re doing it. Unbelievable, perhaps – but sadly true.

2. Involve your colleagues. It’s critical that people feel a part of something that they can help influence and shape. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of thousands of people and what I’ve found is that most of them want to feel like they’re part of something rather than just in a job. So actively engage your staff by creating listening posts, holding open meetings where anyone from the cleaner to the CEO can listen in, or starting a competition where ideas, concepts and examples of best practice are shared. The box gets emptied regularly and the best suggestions win a prize. Involve, involve and involve all over again.

3. Rewards and recognition. People will step back and not want to engage if the recognition or reward offered to them doesn’t align with their own preferences. An example: as a generous gesture of thanks and encouragement for a team that’s met its targets, you might buy everyone a bottle of champagne and hold a mini awards ceremony in the office. But… three people in the team don’t drink and so have no tangible reason to push themselves, while three others may shy away from any kind of ceremony. So for these people you need to offer a prize that they will appreciate and deliver it in an environment they’re comfortable in. In short, if you take the time to find out what your staff like and don’t like, you’ll motivate them and inspire them to do more.
Ultimately, human beings are pretty simple creatures and share a need to feel valued, respected and wanted.

The same, believe it or not, applies to your staff. If they are encouraged to feel that way, well, congratulations! Yours is a happy, fully-participating ship.

Jez Rose is a leading Behaviour Change Consultant working businesses worldwide. You can find him here at www.thebehaviourexpert.com