Updated: Jul 16, 2019
I find it strange that people who work alongside each other, in some cases for years, know so little about their colleagues. I’m sure that my personal preference for extroversion means I am more likely to seek people out and want to engage with them, even superficially, but whoever we are, we all have extraordinary stories to tell and share.
Employee Engagement, according to the Bersin Report commissioned by Deloitte in 2016 by is woefully low in the UK, and lower than it needs to be worldwide. It is harming our industries and having a devastating effect on our working experience. It is estimated that in the UK only 8% of employees are highly engaged and as many as 27% are Actively Disengaged. The other 65% come to work, do what’s asked of them, but keep their head down and lack a strong sense of connection with their work.
One of the most powerful openers I have come across recently was at a seminar on engagement. It is a simple exercise to facilitate in teams, requiring each member to respond to the following statement:
Tell us about a time when you overcame adversity in your life.
I have tried this with groups and the stories that emerge are rarely mundane. The offer deep insight into the factors that have shaped colleagues and that inform the way they currently operate. People invariably refer to amazing and emotionally-charged situations and give us reason to admire the way they have fought their way through them, coming out the other side fully or partially intact. There have been occasional tears, much laughter, and a palpable feeling of togetherness.
The point is, that it is much harder to commit to something or someone when we are not personally invested. Having a much deeper understanding of each other’s experiences, strengths and values creates powerful connections, unleashes potential and makes for a richer society.