The Inpulse team has just returned from Amsterdam, where we took part in this year’s HRD Europe conference. It was energising and exciting to meet and share thoughts with leading HRDs, talent specialists, learning and development experts and engagement practitioners.
Dominic Walters, our Director of Consulting, presented on the ‘Secret recipe of engagement’. The presentation and discussion looked at the changing nature of employment and work in a time when the World Economic Forum predicts that 65% of the jobs current primary school children (aged up to 11) will do have not yet been invented. In a shifting workplace, people live more in the moment – they will no longer be engaged on the promise of things to come. Instead, they will more focused on developing their skills and how things are for them now. Organisations must connect with people on a more personal basis, and more frequently, in order to keep them engaged. This is especially important in a climate where unemployment is only 3%, such as in the UK, and attracting and keeping good people is ever harder.
The secret recipe for effective engagement in this climate has two key ingredients: leadership and emotion. Leadership is vital because leaders are best placed to understand the individuals within their teams and tailor messages to them and help them connect with the big picture. They can spot issues and tackle them before they become bigger and more problematic. Leaders also have huge influence over their people – several studies indicate that leaders have a 70% impact upon what people think, feel and do – so helping leaders understand the importance of their role in engagement and then equipping them to do it well pay big engagement dividends. We are working with several clients on just this, coaching leaders to manage themselves and connect with their team, often by speaking less and asking questions and listening to the responses more.
The second key ingredient is emotion, as it drives much of people’s behaviour. This has been demonstrated by a number of leading thinkers in the field of decision-making, from Dale Carnegie in the 1930s to modern day thinkers such as Daniel Kahneman. Despite its importance, though, organisations have traditionally not measured it. This was one of the reasons behind our development of the Inpulse platform, which puts emotion at its heart. The first question is always one asking how people are feeling, and our clients find that this, coupled with the subsequent question, “why do you feel this?” gives them practical insight into issues affecting their people and how to address them. Emotion is also the key to unlocking whole brain thinking which in turn can turbo charge innovation and creativity, two essential elements for any organisation looking to stay competitive and relevant.
The ingredients may be simple but the real secret is in the execution. Just as the components of a great cocktail often look simple on paper producing a fantastic drink from them requires judgement, skill and experience, and this is the same with effective engagement. We are very happy to talk with you more about our experiences in getting this recipe right and how we can help you do the same.