What things might get in your way?

Part seven of our Employee Engagement series looks at the things that are likely to get in your way when trying to create an environment conducive to Employee Engagement. In case you have missed the rest of the series, start at part 1. Our last post looked at what processes to put in place.

Creating an environment for Employee Engagement is not an easy or quick undertaking. Like any major change programme there are many things which will conspire to get in your way. The following are a few of the main ones, and what to do about them.

Wrong Focus

One of the sure-fire ways to make the change fail, is to make it about the wrong thing. Imagine the message that people would receive, if you told them you were undertaking a change in order to have them engage more. It is almost definite that they would read this as, ‘to get more out of them’. In order to get the Employee Engagement that you are trying to achieve, the focus has to be on creating an environment that is better for them (the staff). It has to be about making things better for them; making it easier for them to do their job; giving them the support and leadership that they need. However, don’t shy away from it also being about poor performance (poor meaning less than required), becoming unacceptable. Many of the problems caused by poor performance, actually come from the damage done to the morale of the people who are performing well, when they don’t see you tackling it.

Remember it’s a journey

I know this has become a phrase more associated with programmes like the X Factor etc.  but the reality is, change is not an overnight thing. Just because you know where you want to get to, doesn’t mean you’ll be there tomorrow. Many of the reasons for change programmes failing come from the evaluation being based on the end point, rather than where in the journey you should be. The plan must include key indicators along the path to change, and it is those key points which you must measure your progress against. Do not evaluate people’s performance on where you want them to be at the end: evaluate it on where they should be now. And if they are not on track, support them back to where they should be.

Lack of Clarity

As discussed in what environment is needed‘, people need clarity about what is happening in the organisation. They need to know what will be changing and why. In my experience, one of the most fundamental things about people during change, is what they don’t know, they’ll make up. This is a problem normally, but during a change aimed at improving the environment, it is doubly problematic. Tell them up front, and keep them informed. Answer their questions. How engaged they are in the change programme is your responsibility.

Lack of Resilience 

Many years ago, I worked for a global blue-chip organisation. I was part of a team of people responsible for driving change throughout the company. One of the greatest things that happened for this change was when the previous Director of Quality, was promoted to Chief Executive: it was clear that the message of change, and all of the logic behind how to achieve it would be integral to the plan, and therefore it would succeed more quickly. Unfortunately, six months after being promoted, he announced that the change programme would have to be put on the back burner, while the business focused on performance. We in the change team could still see what he had once seen – that the performance would come from the change, but pressure and stress affected how resiliently the change was driven and, for many of us, meant that it stalled for too long to wait around. Stay the course. Once you have created your vision and built your plan around achieving it, regularly remind yourself of where you are going and why – this will keep it strong in your heart and mind.

Lack of Planning

In my post about planning, I outlined my process for generating motivation and enthusiasm through planning. It is vital that this is present in a change programme such as this. The process is simple:

  • Work out what you want to be different – read up on this or take the information from my previous posts on Employee Engagement
  • Work out what you need to do – this is all of the things that you know will need to change
  • Put these things in some form of priority/time order – this can be something which takes up far too much energy: make it simple and based on common sense, and you won’t be far off
  • Start doing things – don’t have actions planned and not do them. Inertia is the enemy here. Get in motion and see the momentum for change quickly build

In addition to this you may want to involve others (I recommend at least the top team, but often a cross-section of various levels is useful); work out as part of the plan what you are going to tell people and when.

Creating a culture of Employee Engagement is, to a large extent, about focusing on Environmental Health. You need to create the environment that will have people choose to become more engaged. By putting in place the right plan, involving the right people, communicating progress, and supporting people in the change, you will be well on your way to creating that environment, and realising the benefits that Employee Engagement brings.

At VR Growth, we are very experienced in facilitating change. If you would like to speak to me about how I can help you get this process going, please get in touch.

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In next week’s eighth and final post on Employee Engagement, we discuss how you can measure the level of engagement.