Do you want to get engaged?

Are you trying to get people ‘on board’, create belief, get people to ‘buy in’, engage your team? If the answer is yes, then read on as these four statements are easy to say but, in practice, difficult to do.

In reality, engaging people whether at an organisation, department, team or individual level is easier said than done. This is supported by a recent survey that indicated that only 30% of employees in the United States are engaged at work. Is that figure representative throughout the globe? I think the figure would be higher, and yet the challenge still remains as to how to get individuals to ‘buy in’ to an organisation’s goal, aim or objective.

What is engagement?

It’s an individual’s level of connection and commitment to their organisation, department, manager or team. In other words, engagement is winning ‘hearts and minds’. This is what most organisations and managers focus on, in fact, in the planning stage of the launch of a new or changed goal, direction, strategy or purpose you will quite often hear Senior Executives or Business Owners state ‘that in order to be successful we need to win their (the employees’) hearts and minds’. And there is the classic trap! There is third element to engagement and that is winning the ‘battle of the bodies’!

As you can see from the illustration below there are three elements to effective engagement: Think, Feel and Act. Only if you touch all three do you increase the likelihood of engagement.

UntitledCognitive or Thinking element of engagement relates to an employee’s logical evaluation of the organisations direction, goals and objectives.

Affective or Feeling (emotional) element of engagement relates to the amount of ‘sense of belonging’ or ‘sense of pride’ employees have in the organisation.

Behaviour or Act element relates to whether employees see a consistency of behaviour aligned to the other two elements from the organisations leaders, their immediate line manager, their managers’ manager, their colleagues and ultimately themselves.

Winning hearts and minds only addresses two of the three elements. By far the most important aspect of engagement is how every leader and manager behaves in an organisation. The way a manager behaves is far more ‘telling’ than what they say. Behaviour is the external expression of how we think and feel – remember behaviour breeds behaviour so if managers behaviour isn’t supportive of a change or action, how can teams be?

Ten management tips for more effective engagement
1. Make what you’re saying is logical to the people you are talking to. It might be logical to you but don’t assume that it will be logical to everyone else.
2. Check that what you are saying makes sense. Again, it may make sense to you but don’t assume it makes sense to others.
3. Set the context before explaining the topic or theme. This assists individuals in ‘put things into perspective’ and therefore makes it more readily understood. A lack of understanding is a massive barrier to engagement – after all, how can you can commit to something you don’t understand?
4. Use plain and simple language. This is not ‘dumbing down’ or talking down to or at people. It’s using an appropriate language pattern for your audience i.e. language that they can understand. Don’t be too clever. Avoid lots of ‘management jargon’ and ‘buzzwords’. Make what you say real.
5. Ask for feedback on how people are feeling. Simply pose the question ‘How do you feel about what I’ve just said?’
6. Make people feel proud of the organisation, department or team by reiterating recent success stories and connect this to the future direction, objective or goal.
7. Thank people for the effort and energy that people have invested to date.
8. Ensure that you behave in a way that is seen to be supportive of where the organisation, department or team is trying to get to (irrespective of how you feel!)
9. Ensure that you behave in a consistent way every day.
10. Walk your talk. The golden rule here is ‘if you cannot walk it… then don’t talk it’ as the management behaviour of ‘talk not walk’ is highly damaging to the organisation and reduces the level of real engagement by individuals. It may also earn you a reputation for not ‘practicing what you preach’ which might be career limiting at best, or career damaging at worst!

So when you need to get employees to ‘get on board’, ‘buy in’, ‘get on the bus/train’ – or just be engaged – make sure that you really think about, plan and allocate resource (e.g. coaching) to developing the right behaviours which support the message.

Really focus on leader and manager behaviour… ignore it at your (and your organisation’s) peril!