4 Election-Inspired Strategies for Driving Employee Engagement

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Like many Americans across the country, I spent over an hour on Tuesday waiting in line for the opportunity to have my voice heard. This provided me with plenty of time to observe those around me. One thing that stood out was that the turnout was much larger than usual, which naturally led to a much longer wait.

While many voters expressed clear displeasure at the length of the line, I was filled with a sense of pride in my community. I’m happy to live in a community full of people that care about the country and want to do their part to help improve it in whatever way they feel is appropriate. They were willing to take an hour or more out of their day and invest it in the future of our government.

If only we could get our teams to be this engaged. We’ve covered in the past the best way to measure employee engagement as well as some strategies for engaging our teams and getting them to speak up. Today I would like to cover some thoughts from the voting line that can be applied to our teams and workplaces.

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Learning How to Persevere From a 108-Year Journey

108 years.

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around.

108 years of striving and hoping. 108 years of falling short of the ultimate goal. It has been an incredibly long journey.

Granted, I am not a member of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (I love typing that). But this has been a dream of mine almost as long as I have been alive.

The journey for this team, however, really got started back in 2009 when the Ricketts family bought the Chicago Cubs and set their plan into motion. They set their sights on the long-term goal of winning a championship, knowing it would take years to accomplish.

The process involved totally overhauling the leadership and philosophy of the organization through the hiring of key individuals such as President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, and manager, Joe Maddon. The entire roster was transformed with the new philosophy, The Cubs Way, in mind. The culture of the organization needed to be totally transformed to achieve their goal of a World Series Championship.

After enduring years of losing baseball, the hard work has finally paid off. The team did not deviate from their plan. They stuck with the process that was set in motion at the beginning and trusted that it would help them achieve their goal.

We can learn from this example if we are facing a daunting task. If your team is pursuing a long-term objective that seems impossible, take a deep breath and prepare for the journey.

There will be ups and downs along the way. Challenges will continually pop up. You will be tempted to deviate from your plan or try to find shortcuts. Significant change is never easy.

It takes time to get the right people on board. You may have to temporarily be content with less than ideal results. At times it will feel like you are making no progress, or even going backwards. That’s normal.

As you pursue your goal, focus on the steps you need to take today to keep moving forward. Trust your process. Celebrate the small victories along the way. Know that if you continue to persevere, the day will come that you get to celebrate the achievement of your ultimate goal.

Speaking of which, I’m going to get back to enjoying this victory.

Go, Cubs, Go!

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Not Sure What to Improve First? Start with Safety

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While driving through town this weekend, I smiled as I passed a local school preparing for a fun event for their students. My smile quickly faded as I noticed an unassuming line of orange cones. Thoughts of a tragic accident that occurred in the past year at that intersection flooded my mind.

I imagined the difficult conversations that must have occurred in the wake of the accident. The second guessing. The questions of what could have been done to prevent it from happening. What should be done to prevent any future recurrences? The cones were no doubt placed there as a result of these discussions.

While I appreciate the efforts made to prevent future accidents, I have one question that I can’t get out of my head: Why did a tragic accident have to happen before any changes were made?

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Is Your Team Consistently Using the Best Approach?

rafting-444743_640_optA few years ago I had the chance to go on a whitewater rafting trip with some friends. Before we were ever allowed in the water, our guide spent a significant amount of time with us discussing safety rules and rafting techniques. He explained what we were to do, when to do it, and why it was important. We practiced responding to commands and ducking into the boat.

He wanted to make sure that when we were in the middle of a large rapid, we would all be on the same page, and respond appropriately.

Organizations face similar challenges every day. How do you ensure that everyone on your team is headed in the same direction? How do you make sure they are prepared to work as a team and respond appropriately when the heat is on.

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Is Your Team Disengaged? How to Break the Silence.

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I recently spoke with a friend about an issue that his organization was facing that was causing him significant frustration. They had experienced an equipment failure that caused significant downtime for their production line. In response, the leadership team demanded that all the similar parts on the line be replaced, regardless of condition.

My friend indicated that this particular part was one that could easily be inspected for wear and only be replaced if necessary. They did not typically fail without warning. If all the parts had been inspected instead of replaced, the organization could have saved the cost of the parts and weeks of work.

Unfortunately, the decision-makers were not aware of this possibility. None of the mechanics who knew the equipment shared this information. They knew it was a costly decision, but no one spoke up, not even my friend. Why?

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Make Your Song Contagious. How to Engage Others in the Dance.

I’m not really much of a dancer. So, when I was at a wedding recently, I spent much of the reception doing one of my favorite activities: observing.

It was very interesting to see the ebb and flow of people and energy on the dance floor as the songs changed. At times, just a few people would be on the floor, dancing with slightly disinterested expressions, and at other times excited dancers would come running from across the room squealing “That’s my song!”.

The significant difference in emotions between these two situations caught my attention.

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How to Embrace Childlike Curiosity to Drive Growth

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I love watching kids interact with the world. They have a wonderful ability to treat even the most mundane things as fantastic discoveries. My youngest daughter can always get me to smile with the way she lights up when she learns something new. Her excitement is infectious as she announces to the room in a very loud voice what she has observed.

It doesn’t matter if it is playing with sticks in the mud, having a pretend picnic, or challenging themselves on the playground, kids are constantly interacting with their environment in novel ways. They test ideas and ask questions about the world and how it works. Driven by their curiosity, this is how they grow and learn.

“Children astound me with their inquisitive minds. The world is wide and mysterious to them, and as they piece together the puzzle of life, they ask ‘Why?’ ceaselessly.” – John C. Maxwell

Adults and organizations are no different.

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