I vividly recall in the early 2000’s hearing a term which fascinated me, largely because I thought it sounded like a made up word!
A HR consultant was speaking with a group of senior leaders and advised against engaging in “perfunctory consultation”. When a colleague, with an obviously sharper mind than mine, explained what perfunctory meant, it certainly touched a cord.
The HR consultant’s statement made even more sense when I checked my trusty thesaurus and found synonyms such as: “token” – “fleeting” – “halfhearted” – “dismissive” – “indifferent”
I don’t know about you, however, I find it incredibly frustrating when I’m not given a meaningful opportunity to have a say in the things that matter to me; when it appears my input is being sought as a matter of course; those times when it seems those in charge have already made decisions and are seeking viewpoints as an afterthought – or as merely a ‘tick box’ exercise?
The recent pronouncement by the World Health Organisation that Burn – out was now listed as an official disease drew my attention to the importance of leaders knowing how to engage their staff at work.
In my previous 2 posts I spoke of the impact that demonstrating empathy and ensuring clarity has, on building a high morale climate. High morale is what makes organisations flourish; where people feel a strong sense of purpose and fulfilment. People don’t burn out in such environments.
Assuming empathy and clarity are being attended to, it’s the meaningful engagement of our workers that really adds zing to morale. But how do we achieve this without it feeling “perfunctory”? Here are a few simple, yet extremely effective methods to raise the energy levels within your teams.
In meetings – where the dangers of disengagement run high – try this. Instead of opening up discussion to the whole table, where one or two often dominate and others withdraw, simply ask members to chat about the matter in question in pairs or 3’s. Give them a short time period eg 1-3 minutes, then ask each pair/group to report back on what they identified…with no repetition permitted.
Every person in the meeting will have just been engaged in the item and you are likely to gain a full spectrum of perspectives.
If you have a clear view about a decision you wish to make and can articulate your ‘Why’ based on your beliefs and principles – go for it…it’s your responsibility as a leader to identify the ‘What’ to provide clarity of direction.
Don’t engage in pseudo consultation about the ‘What’, but do ask for input about the ‘How’.
“We are going to change the frequency of our meetings from fortnightly to weekly. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the best time of day and the venue.”
Life is full of so many contradictions. Logic would almost suggest a lack of engagement, a state which requires less energy expenditure, would equate to a more cruisy and comfortable world of work. And yet, the reality is, when we don’t experience that sense of flow which accompanies genuine engagement, there is a friction which results from our frustration.
A friction that causes unnecessary heat in our workplaces. A heat which can contribute to people experiencing Burn out.
So for all of you with a sphere of influence in your workplace, think of how you can add to the levels of engagement within your teams. Employing simple strategies such as those outlined above, can play a significant role in adding to the sense of stimulation, motivation, drive and enjoyment amongst your most precious resource.