I once asked a manager “how many people work here?” He replied, “About half.” Our subsequent consulting assessment work within his organization showed that he was wrong. He was too optimistic. They had a major commitment crisis. People were disengaged and morale was sinking to new lows.

Here are some ways to energize and engage people throughout your team or organization:

  • Work with your staff/frontline people to develop an annual Listen-Feedback-Action process. This generally starts with a survey or third party interviews or focus groups. The outside company then prepares a summary report. This is taken back to everyone in the organization for feedback, clarification, priority-setting, and action planning. Once these sessions are completed, broader organizational issues are identified and actions set for implementing those changes. This is reported back to everyone.
  • Engage frontline service providers in a systematic process of identifying changing customer expectations against your organization’s performance. Get their help in analyzing trends and planning for meeting those shifting needs.
  • Hold regular breakfasts (“muffins with management”), lunches, and celebration dinners with frontline teams. Take this time to ask for feedback, concerns, and suggestions. A simple question such as: “What’s the dumbest thing management asks you to do?” can produce powerful insights and engage people in resolving the issues raised.
  • Keep highly visible scoreboards, big thermometers (like a fundraising campaign), bulletin boards, Intranet sites, voice mail messages, newsletters, and the like to update everyone on your progress toward key goals or change and improvement targets. Make goals/targets and progress as visible as possible.
  • To get partnering behavior, treat everyone like partners. Share financial and other “confidential” information openly so everyone can see how his or her efforts contribute.
  • Use focus groups (a cross-section of frontline staff) to test new management directions before making grand announcements to everyone. Even if you press on against the advice of the focus groups, you’ll have deeper insight on how to face the issues the new direction may raise.