In Monday Memo


Is “engaging” just a new fad?

The new fad on the block seems to be the notion of “engaging”! We are told we are supposed to start engaging with our people but what does this really mean? And why is it important, seemingly all of a sudden?

These two questions are actually inter-linked. Many managers (and several leaders) have got away with staying in their positions because they are bright and / or technically capable, capabilities that have been allowed to overshadow their lack of interpersonal and people management skills – and they have been accepted, sometimes, because that’s “just the way they are”.

However, things since 2008/9 have got tougher in all our businesses, and no one runs their business today as they did prior to those dates. Everything is leaner, and if we had to get by with less before those dates, we have had to become world class since then, or risk disappearing. Perhaps the only area left for us to leverage is the area we have avoided, or merely paid lip service to, for so long – our people, the hard work of so-called soft skills! Sure we have become past masters at driving them into the ground, but have we learnt how to maximise their performance.

Enter the notion of “engagement”. For many managers, it merely meant that they had to communicate for a change – and for some that meant increasing the level of micromanagement!

In reality, however, whereas communication and micromanagement have strong elements of self-interest, when we engage we are concerned with the best interests of the person who works for us. How can we best help them to maximise their performance?

There are numerous ways we can do this – and my suggestion is that you explore different possibilities. But there is a cautionary note here: don’t engage if you are not genuine about what you are saying and doing. People (you too!) respond really well to being valued and they resist you when you insult them!

So, for starters, try acknowledging your people this coming week: when someone completes a task, say the equivalent of “good job” and then add (and this is the really important part) the personal attribute or attitude etc that they showed in completing the task (eg “Good job, Anne. I really appreciated the way you went out of your way to ensure the client was more than happy!”)

Then watch what happens on the next task they are involved with! Spot the difference when you engage properly!

Monday Morning Perspective: “Hard skills are the foundation of a successful career. But soft skills are the cement” – Dorothy Dalton

Kind regards,

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