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Doug Shaw

What Goes Around Limited


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Blog: Engagement taskforce update – part one


Hi folks – a couple of weeks ago, a bunch of us met with David MacLeod, Nita Clarke et al to continue encouraging the engagement taskforce.

What follows is a transcript of the conversations I heard. I’ll issue part one now and part two tomorrow. Here goes:

Part one
In groups we were asked to consider the ‘bigger picture’ (sorry you’ll have to click here to see the pic) and to discuss what the taskforce should seek to achieve over the next 18 months.
At our table the conversation started around shareholder value, profit, productivity etc and then we quickly shifted, these things are old talk, and yet we recognise that they are often what the CEO and board is measured against. A CEO will (nearly) always think survive first, thrive second, particularly when times are tough.
A lot of folk still see engagement as HR’s job. How we manage is important. Actually it’s not about management it’s about consultation and involvement. It’s about ongoing simple dialogue, understanding what better work means for everybody.
There was a sense that the senior management (sorry but I will not use the term C-suite, these are people not furniture we’re discussing) might agree with the principles and don’t know how to implement. This emerged from observations that all too often we ‘blame’ layers of management beneath the top team when of course there is responsibility for the most senior teams to engage directly with others too.
We talked about the need for some faith, and trust. Familiarity is important, and this could be gained through being more visible. The open door policy is patronising and out of date. No one should have an office enclosing them. Private space is readily available for sensitive meetings, conversations etc. as needed.
O2 were held up as an example of this – the CEO sits out in the open, well done! In conversations later that day I learned of two more accessible senior management examples at Yellsites and LBi. I think we need many more.
Who people are is important, behaviour matters and we talked about how, when driving people to meet KPIs and targets, there is little or no acknowledgement of this. Despite the fact that some organisations may try to measure the behavioural stuff using Myers Briggs and other tools, we don’t seem to acknowledge the differences when people are managed.
Developing a sense of commitment to each other, to suppliers, customers and other groups is important. There is no mention of community in the diagram yet most if not all felt it was a strong, even vital connection to the world of work. We need to find ways to encourage emotional connections, belief is important.
Looking ahead, what would we like to see (comments from our table and the wider group)?
  1. There is a growing expectation for dialogue; a wider workplace acceptance of social tools may be needed
  2. Engagement and Wellbeing appearing on the MBA syllabus
  3. It’s not how we manage – more like how we work (the word manage came in for a lot of stick and several people asked for it to be removed from the diagram – old fashioned)
  4. Stronger connections with community, wellbeing and customer service
  5. We are still doing this to people; it’s not a way of life yet (even after decades of discussion)
  6. We manage too much
  7. Metrics don’t make a story
  8. Leadership (at all levels) means more than management
  9. Creativity and innovation if allowed make a big difference – few organisations allow for the disruption and mess that creativity and innovation bring so if your organisation punishes mistakes (and many do) then perhaps creativity and innovation are not for you.
  10. Small is significant – no programmes required try some small behaviour changes and see what works.
Doug Shaw is head of employee and customer engagement consultancy, What Goes Around Ltd.

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