The Three Word Engagement Strategy


Type “what is engagement?” into Google and you’re faced with four differing definitions. Obvious references to marriage aside, the first three resonate with what, on paper, organisations ideally want from their employee engagement programmes – things like agreement, commitment and involvement. Heckling from the back is the definition of what organisation’s secretly fear will be the actual outcome of their attempts at engagement – conflict. A scary and chaotic thing.

I’m fine with the term engagement. It’s how we create engagement that has become confused. The general consensus seems to be that it’s very important and we need some kind of weighty strategy document to ensure it’s being achieved. I’m no expert, but I think any engagement strategy I wrote would be pretty thin on the ground. That’s either because engagement is so simple it doesn’t need a strategy, or it’s so complicated it’s integral to everything so it doesn’t need a strategy. Possibly both.

If you asked me to engage some people in singing, that would be a simpler proposition. Walk into a room and start singing (preferably something well known and/or patriotic). Some people would join in with me, if I encouraged them. The rest would probably just stare at me open mouthed, or laugh at me. And isn’t that pretty much what happens when we try to engage employees in, shall we call it, “organisation love”. Some of them will join in, while others will look on in horror, or sneer. And aren’t the latter the ones we really need to reach?

So I’m sure it’s been said before but here is my strategy. Three simple words – “tell people stuff”. Important stuff. Give people a sense of bigger purpose – the work equivalent of imparting the meaning of life. If I need to be more explicit, there’s just one more word I need to add – “listen”.

There’s a pretty good chance that some people won’t agree, and isn’t it best to get those feelings out in the open? Someone once said that conflict is a good thing. Of course it’s not. On the other hand dialogue, leading to resolution, certainly is.

So now I’ve got my strategy written, it’s time for the implementation. Getting out there, talking to people, discussing. And of course, sharing the organisational love 🙂


4 thoughts on “The Three Word Engagement Strategy

  1. Ian Walker

    I go to alot of comedy gigs and strangely its the “heckles” that sometimes make the show if the comedian is switched on enough to take that heckle and make it into an entertaining “engagement” that can build the show.
    The way this works is because the engagement, in this instance, does not need to be everyone simply getting onboard with the original plan. Its about the contribution (or heckle) actually been used in a positive manner.
    In the workplace a certain freedom of opinion could be used as a very constructive tool to achieve the overall goal or vision by addressing both the good and the bad (its all engagement). The trick is to be able to make sure staff know that opinions matter and being given an opportunity to engage (constructively) if they don’t feel comfortable with an idea. If this freedom of opinion isn’t present then people will naturally feel less inclined to engage. This happens in all walks of life: you can’t do that! Why not? Because you just can’t! It sounds alot better if the conversation goes like: You can’t do that! Why not? Because them railings are too small and your head will get stuck, its about to rain and you wont like being stuck there soaking wet will you? (p.s. Not speaking from a life experience but you get my drift 😉
    The point is engagement will come from an open and free thinking culture. A well explained goal will lead to innovative ideas (and even identified problems).
    Sometimes though, at certain gigs, you know fine well some people have turned up with the sole purpose just to heckle, but these usually are the people who end up with egg on their face come the end!
    You hit the nail on the head when you say dialog leading to resolution… thats the key..
    Nice blog!

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