How to get employees engaged?

I have already written in the past about the need to motivate employees to build customer-centric organizations. Technology can only do so much. We can have all the technology in the world but without engaged employees all these investments go down the drain. What are the building blocks of getting started on this? 

Nick Smith has some good suggestions:

  • Know where you are coming from.
    It’s probably wise, before stepping up to the leadership plate, to examine our own motivations because ‘where we are coming from’ speaks far louder than anything we might say or do.
  • Make conversation a first class citizen.
    Conversation is the way we have got things done since Adam and Eve decided to walk out of the Garden of Eden.  The process flow is always the same:
    Ideas —-> Conversation —- > Agreement —-> Action.
  • Start slow to go quick.
    It’s in wandering around, kicking the tires and sharing our frustrations that we come to discover a place we can call our own within a team.. something we can contribute and feel good about.. some role that we can fill (or learn to) that is personally meaningful to us.
  • Get comfortable with blindness.
    Helping people find their own inspiration can be tricky.  Many times we don’t consciously know what we want ourselves, but it comes disguised as a rant.  After all, we never get angry about the things we don’t care about.
  • Let go of the concept of ‘failure’.
    Going out on a limb is messy.  It’s all new to us, like learning to walk all over again.  We trip, we fall down, we pick ourselves up and then we do it all over again.  If we’ve got someone looking over our shoulder ready to snatch back control when we mess up, then we give up trying.
  • Use consent rather than consensus as a framework for decision making.
    Many of us talk about Enterprise 2.0 as the democratisation of the workplace.  But seriously, is democracy that good a model?  As far I can see there are two big problems with it.  First, the bigger and the more diverse the group, the longer it takes to get a consensus of opinion.  Secondly, debate has a way of killing the brightest ideas.
  • Be mindful of unexpected good stuff.
    This is about staying open and receptive to  what can never be planned.  The really magic stuff that comes out of great groups is the stuff that comes out of the blue.  It’s not east to describe but when it comes it sneaks up on us and hits us up the side of the head.. and  we know.
  • Be disruptive.
    Most people think of good leadership as maintaining order and keeping everything running smoothly.  What we are talking about here is the exact opposite.  Instead of being a good ‘motivator’ you can be a master disrupter – rearranging things to allow us to do what naturally moves us, and getting the other stuff out of the way.
  • Be the keeper of the sacred scrolls.
    Just kidding!.. or maybe not.  It’s part of the human condition to forget what is most important to us.  We get stuck in the inertia of those two old, tired ideas – ‘work’ and ‘effort’… and then forget that  the real magic happens when we just enjoy our Selves.

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