I spent this week running several virtual training sessions for a client. The challenge in virtual sessions as compared to face to face interactions is in creating engagement. In every session participants provided feedback that confirmed their engagement which got me thinking about what factors lead to organizational engagement. More specifically how do we create it, both virtually and in-person and how can it be sustained?
To begin with, true engagement is built upon a foundation of communication. Tell employees what you know, listen to their thoughts and opinions, respond accordingly, then take action when necessary or prudent.
Now I will admit, speaking about engagement is easier than instigating it, otherwise every business would have engaged employees, which we know if not the case. So here are some distinct steps you can take to build engagement:
- Facilitate a means of collecting employee concerns, questions and comments.
- Confirm to employees that their ideas and concerns have been heard.
- Provide a combination of positive, productive and constructive criticism.
- Institute changes based on employee feedback.
- Involve employees in the changes, empowering them to make decisions and effect change.
With these steps in mind it’s important to acknowledge that there are always a distinct few some individuals that reject engagement, creating a toxic environment for others, I call these the D.U.D.s (a Distraught, Under-productive employee with Destructive behavior). These people will quickly diminish your opportunity to create engagement so the most important step in creating sustained engagement is to deal swiftly and effectively with D.U.D.s. They aren’t captain of the ship, you are. Manage or remove the D.U.D.s and true engagement has a chance to flourish.
So recognizing this sounds easier than it actually is start by contrasting your efforts against the five steps above. Identify where the gaps exist and then take action to resolve. You see engagement is possible in every organization, it just takes open communication channels and substantiated effort in order to deliver your desired outcomes.
© Shawn Casemore 2013. All rights reserved.