Employee disengagement hovers around 70%. This means that 70% of your employees – of your team – are only there for the paycheck and not much more.
Do they want to be engaged? You bet. But they aren’t.
So what do we do? We create programs, initiatives, cultural upheavals, incentives, parties, and at times even threaten.
Still – 70%.
And it really doesn’t change.
Over the last 20 years I have been in numerous team meetings. I have watched as initiatives to improve the culture and employee engagement fail. A valiant effort of course, but most don’t deliver on the intended results.
But there are glimpses! Those times when you can feel it coming together. You get excited because you may have found something that works! And at some point you hit it on the head and… WOW! It’s like magic! The team or company as a whole gels together and you feel the momentum. Numbers are up. Productivity is up. Morale is up. You are on a high!
We have all felt these times of bliss. And we want to keep the feeling! But in time it fades, or we change jobs, or the market adds a twist and changes everything.
Aaaaaand, you’re back.
What was it that took you to that high? What were you missing that brought on the low? What is that magic ingredient?
Having worked with a diverse set of teams – in size, scope, geography, industry, complexity – I have seen many that work and many that don’t. And there is one factor that is ALWAYS present in the healthy teams/companies, and always missing in the depleted teams/companies.
Before I give the secret, I want to point out that by “healthy” and “depleted” I don’t mean financially, although that does follow. I’m talking about the health of a company’s culture, which leads to financial success. Not that there aren’t companies who are financially successful and have a horrible culture – because there are. I’ve seen them. I’ve worked with/for them. But the financial success is either not stable or not anywhere close to where it could be. Rather, some smart moves and market conditions make the financial success.
What I’m talking about is sustained success – of a company or of a team.
This secret ingredient is the catalyst to employee engagement.
And here it is…
Pure and simple. Hard core and poignant. Focused and real. The healthy teams have healthy discussion up and down the chain of command and in team meetings. The depleted teams don’t have discussion – they have mandates.
And I’m not talking about the, “What do you think about…” token discussion. Not the ones where the managers check a box saying, “I asked them and they didn’t tell me anything.” These are the ones that are targeted on a specific subject, are free from hierarchy and free from retribution. Everyone is able to speak their mind without fear. They are able to bring up ideas, no matter how crazy or idiotic they may sound. They may voice concerns that were long ago identified but never properly handled.
And it is done in a group setting. This way everyone can help solve the problem. It isn’t on the shoulders of the manager only. It is the team’s issue and the team’s solution.
But one of the difficulties is how to start a free flowing discussion. If it is brought up by a manager, then it almost seems staged.
“How can we improve our meetings?”
(“Oh boy, what is she trying to get at? What does she really mean? I’ll stay quiet and let someone else fall into this hole.”)
No. Ideally it is a third party that starts the discussion. That’s why counselors are so effective. They start discussions between parties and help steer it in a healthy direction.
And that is what I want to do for you.
Each week I will come out with a new “VINJONES Discussions” topics. These are short videos that introduce a theme.
Start your meetings off with one of these videos and open up the floor to discussion. You will only need to take about 10-15 minutes at the start. Sure, it takes a few minutes, but the level of trust you will build will pay dividends for the rest of the meeting.
I have done this in real life and it just plain works. It may take a few times before it catches on and people start to open up. Give them that time to become accustomed to a different format.
So, let me be your coach. Choose any of the VINJONES Discussion topics each meeting and then sit back and let the discussion happen.
You can also use these on a company level. Put it out there and let people discuss and discover what many have been hiding.
This, by far, is the best way I have seen and used to dramatically start increasing employee engagement.
The first one is coming…