Engaging staff

Engaging Staff

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

There is an international men’s organization that I have been involved with for many years called The ManKind Project. It offers many different opportunities for men to support one another. One of them is a men’s retreat weekend where attendees have an opportunity to look at things in their lives that work and don’t work for about 48 hours. They are away from work and family, away from the distraction of sports and electronics for 48 hours.

Men come to lead and staff the weekend; there are experienced men and very junior men in terms of experience handling the many situations that might occur within the framework of the retreat. Often, the weekend leader will say to the volunteer staff, “For you men who are here for the first or second time, you are closer to the men who are attending. You remember what it is like to experience this training, much more than someone like me.” It is true. They do remember. They recognize the responses that the men attending the training have because they see their own experiences in those men.

As someone who manages a team or an organization, managing by walking around (MBWA) offers a style of business management that involves managers wandering around, in an unstructured manner, through the workplace(s), at random, to check with employees, equipment, or on the status of ongoing work (Wikipedia). Like with the encouragement on the men’s retreat, a leader will hear the sort of information that will not make it into a report or by sitting in their office waiting for someone to walk in and talk with them.

Start the conversation by asking, “What are we doing well,” or “What’s the best thing you can think of that is going on here?” That calibrates them to specifics and the positives that often go unsaid. From there, ask about what can be improved.

“What can be done better?”

“What isn’t being noticed by the management that should be?”

Then, thank them and ask, “How can you lead the charge to make this possible?” This encourages people to develop their leadership, even if it doesn’t seem the best idea to you.

Leadership is a process of awakening and revealing the genius in each of us so that we contribute the best we can. Given the time we live in where employee engagement statics remain at 30% in the US and half of that elsewhere, a few small questions like these will engage your team in change and help your firm, department, business grow PLUS support your team in its development.


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