Tag Archives: engagement

Three Team Members

Who is on your team?

The first type of person always shows up early, helps to arrange the chairs, sits on the edge of their seat and is a frequent volunteer. This is the person I call the Eager Beaver.

The second type of person is never early, but never late. I call this person the vacationer. They are very happy to sit in meetings, because after all, they are not back in their cubicle at work. Responding to a discussion, sometimes they will participate, sometimes they won’t, doesn’t really matter to them, because, after all, they are on vacation.

The third type of person is precisely punctual, sits in the back of the room with arms folded, daring any person around to engage them in conversation. Body language is simultaneously defensive and aggressive. This is the person I call the hostage.

Which of these three has the insight, the brilliant idea that will save the day?

As the manager, we don’t know. No manager can afford to have a single team member disengaged. We need maximum participation, no coasting, everybody plays.

How often do we sit in meetings and watch people check out? One ear open to the meeting, one eyed glancing at a report they were supposed to review yesterday. One brazen team member, laptop open, supposedly taking notes of the meeting, but more likely checking e-mail.

Who is responsible for creating a different atmosphere, a different context? Who is responsible for creating the crucible in which a problem can be explored, alternatives generated and a solution selected? Who is responsible for creating the kind of meeting where each team member is engaged from beginning to end? Who indeed?

If that’s you in the mirror, the next question is “how?” How can you create maximum participation from every person in the room? How can you create full engagement?

How to Get Employee Engagement

“So, they ran the last manager off in three months?”

“Yes,” replied Julia.

“How do you think you broke through?”

“Well, the story about the previous manager was all pretense. Ralph was posturing to see how I would react.”

“And?”

“I could have responded the same way, but I didn’t. Instead, I asked him questions about the way things were being done. Fact-based questions allow the ice to be broken. Then I moved from facts to purpose.” Julia’s plan was emerging.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“First, I asked him about their most significant achievement, as a team. Everybody likes to brag so he told me about a particularly difficult project that had gone very well.” Julia stopped. “And then, I asked him why that was important. The level of the conversation had moved from pretense to purpose. And I had moved it in only four questions.”

“And?”

“And I still have a long way to go, but it’s a start.”