Derek Bishop


Resolving engagement

Date added: 13th Jan 2014
Category: Employee Engagement

By the time you read this article, resolutions which seemed so achievable on 1st January have faded into the hazy filing cabinet of what might have been.  Excuses ranging from ‘the time wasn’t right’ to ‘it just wasn’t working’ to ‘I was distracted’ have been examined for suitability and then discarded in favour of, at worst denial that the resolution was ever made, and at best the thought that no-one really keeps new year resolutions anyway do they.

But look deeper and it is easy to see the true reason why many resolutions aren’t kept and that is simply the glibness with which the resolution was made in the first place.  Satiated with food, sluggish from lounging in overheated homes and with the sum total of our holiday exercise being a stroll to the pub on Boxing Day, it is no wonder that we are tempted to resolve to lose weight, exercise more or take up sport.  But whilst making a resolution is easy, actually carrying it through requires preparation, planning, communication and a change in routine.

For example, resolving to cut down on fattening foods is heading straight for failure if the home is stuffed full of biscuits and chocolates; family members are programmed to put two sugars in coffee and the weekly meet up with friends always takes place in a fish & chip bar.  To maximise the chances of success those unopened boxes of biscuits need to go to a local food bank, family & friends need to be asked to help with a change in lifestyle and a fresh venue sought for meetings.  Even then changing the habits of a lifetime is going to take hard work so you need to be prepared for the odd failure and map out milestones along the pathway to an eventual goal.

But if all of this effort is needed for one person to keep a resolution, what does it take for an entire organisation to change its culture?  Well, perhaps surprisingly the steps are not dissimilar.    The senior team may have noticed that the workforce is getting sluggish, sickness is on the increase, productivity down and mistakes are starting to creep in.  The solution identified may be to take steps to re-engage the workforce in the aims and values of the organisation.   But simply resolving to increase engagement or even standing up and announcing a move towards engagement is doomed to failure unless positive actions are taken.

Just as with the New Year resolutions, these actions vary depending on the nature of the problem and the business itself; but just as with personal resolutions, success will require preparation, planning, communication and a change in routine.  For example, the leadership team may decide to undertake a staff engagement survey to help them to decide what actions are required.  Announcing the survey and the reasons behind it are an important first step but once the survey has highlighted problems in personnel, leadership or process then it is important to act on the findings as soon as possible.

To turn around engagement will require a change in attitude and approach by leaders at all levels of the organisation, it will require others outside the leadership team to champion and act as a catalyst for change, it may even require new processes or a complete reshuffle of responsibilities.  But it will also require an understanding that the pathway may not be smooth, that there may be failures along the way and that celebrating milestones to success will help to keep the transformation on course.

Any transformation takes hard work but the rewards are there for those who stick with it.  Engaged employees bring an improvement in profitability, in reputation and in value.  More importantly, engaged employees working for the long term success   of the organisation act as a catalyst for further improvements in engagement, flexibility or innovation.  Where have you resolved to take your organisation in 2014?  If the roadmap includes a change in culture or engagement then get in touch.

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