Some additional tips about how to ensure your engagement structure works.
It’s easy to make mistakes when adopting an engagement model. The following tips build on this Framework of Influence (FoI) article.
- Remember that engagement is leadership, and that it is the role of the leader to ‘take employee engagement […] to a cultural pillar that improves performance‘(1).
- Stay honest, credible, professional, ethical, transparent.
- Deliver the ‘Why’. Why there are changes; why their suggestion was not taken up. When you engage, engage fully even if it’s a challenging conversation,
- Work at that relationship. Bob may be hard work – but he also may be marked as talent, or at the very least his leaving would cause downtime/cost for the business. If he feels engaged, he’s one of the 37% of people actively keeping an eye out for opportunities. If he’s not engaged, then he’s one of the 56% looking, and if he’s actively disengaged he’s one of the 73% actively looking – and most likely being a toxic employee while he’s at it. (1) And in my experience, sometimes the actively disengaged are very comfortable where they are…
- Encouraging people to believe they have influence if you are not really going to allow any. Engaging will build trust, leading people down a path will result in loss of trust and disillusionment. It’s hard to come back from that.
- Opening the conversation if the decision has already been made. Any existing decisions should be outlined in your FoI from the start.
Moving the goalposts. If there is a big change (ie: the business changes direction) you must be very clear of ‘why’ changes are happening. Help people understand and you bring them on the journey.
- Avoiding the ‘Why’. Ever. No, people may not like what they hear, but they deserve a well-reasoned, professionally constructed and delivered explanation.
- Avoiding follow-up requests to the ‘Why’. Sometimes, people will have more questions and this is OK. We are all wired differently. Some people need more support than others to adjust – but adjust they will.