3 Steps To Instant Team Engagement
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Suppose you need to quickly get team ownership and support for a critical change or even a new way of executing together on your goals and priorities. In that case, you’ll want to check out this three-step process to get instant team engagement.
When introducing the need for change, many of us have made the mistake of trying to get our team to “buy in” as a first step. It’s not surprising because going for buy-in and explaining “What’s In It for Me” to them (WIIFM) has been promoted as a change strategy for decades.
But in today’s world, buy-in doesn’t come easily; you must earn it. These days, people are selling us their views everywhere we turn, and we have all gone for some of these only to find they quickly disappoint. It’s simply human not to buy into something new until you’ve seen the evidence that it works. Starting with buy-in engages people’s skepticism and puts you, as the leader, in a position to sell something to a cold crowd. It just doesn’t work.
Instead, paint a story that describes the need and then engage your team to think through the situation and find the solutions for themselves.
Try the following three-step process to get your team moving forward with energy in just one meeting.
The 3-Step Process
STEP 1: Capture Your External Business Drivers and Craft Your Story
External business drivers are those things that affect your business that you don’t have control over. They’re things that, if you don’t respond effectively, put you in difficult situations. Examples include new customer trends, technology, regulations, new industry impacts such as supply chain issues, new political influences, a pandemic, or the economy.
External business drivers could also include retaining employees, finding new, high-performing employees that fit your culture, or changing customer needs.
Suppose you are a lower-level team in a larger organization. In that case, the drivers could be internal to the company but not in your team’s control, like company priorities, budgets, aspirations, or integrating new systems.
Brainstorm your list of the external business drivers that could impact your business and prepare to present these to your team.
Then, write down a few ideas on how you and your team need to respond to the drivers to ensure your success in the coming year.
These two simple lists give you a story to share with your team. You don’t need to perfect it because the next step is to ENGAGE your people in filling out any missing aspects of the story and response.
STEP 2: Engage Your Team in the Process
Call a meeting with no other agenda items on it. This is a strategy session where you want to engage their higher-level thinking skills without the distraction of all the things currently on their plates.
Start by sharing the list of drivers. Tell it as a story, relating one driver to another to paint what your team will face in the coming year.
Then, immediately engage your team in a conversation about the drivers, what you have missed, and what you all need to do differently to address those drivers. Make sure to take notes visually so you can modify ideas on the spot and keep the conversation focused. Avoid moving to action or problem-solving at this stage. Keep people focused on aligning on a shared picture (story) of what needs to be done to address the drivers.
When a clear picture of what you are facing starts to gel and you have identified 3 to 5 do-different responses to address the drivers, slow the pace and summarize what you have captured.
This is a magical moment. What you have done by engaging your people is created ownership for a whole new direction.
It’s no longer yours. It’s theirs, and they own it because they created it.
- No telling
- No selling
- No buy-in needed
But the real bonus is you are providing an experience for your team to think and act more like business owners rather than only employees, and that’s priceless.
STEP 3: Identify Your Highest Leverage Shift and Get Started
Now we need to land the plane to take some meaningful action. Be careful with this step. Pick an area that will give you the biggest bang for the buck. Usually, one that:
- If you implement will positively impact the other areas
- It will save you time by reducing starts and crises
- You can make progress quickly
Agree on a list of criteria like this before entering the voting and decision-making process. If you don’t, people can easily fall back to old thinking or focus on the latest crisis rather than taking a strategic and critical thinking approach.
When you pick the area, declare success! Don’t try to lay out the action plan in this meeting. But you can ask who would be interested in leading or participating in the effort and set them up to get started. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response!
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