Updated: Apr 24
How is it that some teams are just so much better?
To be better takes not just skill but respect for one another, trust, love, connectedness, and a passion for a common purpose. We met one such team in Eastern Suburbs Gymnastics Club (ESGC). They knew who they used to be and decided to change. They knew the new ethos they wanted, they needed to put it into words and develop process to bring it to life. We were proud to have facilitated this journey for them. We all loved the outcome, so we decided to share some insights to help you go from a good to a great team engagement in five steps.
Step 1. Know the importance of great team engagement
Businesses spend a lot of time, effort, and money on improving engagement. Some of it is allocated to understand how people feel about work by rolling surveys, polls and having formal conversations. More is invested in training, meetings and team activities aimed at improving engagement resulting from the diagnostic. Even more is spent on fixing disengagement problems such as unexpected recruitment, on-boarding, and dispute resolution. Not as much is spent on purpose, the WHY the company does what it does and how the people who work there are connected to it.
Research tells us that humans are motivated the most when working together towards a bigger purpose. Whilst understanding, improving, and managing engagement is important, having a clearly articulated business WHY is a critical element to form highly engaged teams. It enables current and future employees, customers, collaborators, and providers to emotionally connect.
So why make all these efforts? Well simply put because happy teams improve overall business performance and disengaged teams add cost!
When we met ESGC they were a happy and engaged team as they had previously put a lot of effort into having happy people. To move to the next level of performance they recognised the need to work on their team WHY. They needed to articulate their purpose and values.
As a reflection exercise, think about the two statements below and rate how true they are to you right now. Use a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being ‘spot on’.
1. When I wake up, I am excited about going to work
2. I am emotionally connected to the purpose of why we do what we do at work?
If you’re close to a 5 for one or both statements, well done keep up the good vibes. If you’re closer to 1 for both statements, then it’s time to do something about it.
Step 2. Do something about it
To carry on the theme of being engaged and emotionally attached to the team’s purpose let’s look at what we can do about these two things. Firstly, understanding levels of engagement. There are lots of ways to measure team engagement from international surveys with follow up processes to downloadable free stuff. Some are done annually, some twice a year, all promoting action to make improvements. You need to decide what works best for you and fits your budget. One thing I would say is that the more frequent attention engagement gets, the less the likelihood of nasty surprises. Regularity is achieved by leaders demonstrating every day that they care, such as having simple weekly ‘group pulse’ conversations for example.
Then there is the emotional attachment to the business. This is achieved through the production of a business or team WHY statement that works for everyone. This must be an inclusive exercise. The challenge that we have seen is that you can’t have the same people participating and facilitating this emotional journey. It needs independent support.
ESGC are a great example of how this process was so engaging and valuable. They put a cross section of their leaders, coaches, team and board members in a room together with two of our facilitators and they developed a statement that in one sentence defines why they rush to work every day. Now they are making it the backbone of their business.
Step 3. Make great engagement the backbone of your business
To progress to higher levels of engagement, a business needs to stay true to its WHY. This means forming strategies and making decisions that always connect to it. The areas to focus at first could be, setting goals, targets and objectives, performance management, recruitment, resourcing, workplace flexibility, work-life balance, rewards and recognition and the processes to manage them. Not compromising on your team WHY also applies to the customers you work with, the way you work with them and the partnerships you create. Committing to these strategies will help you drive your point of difference and shape your WHY to be the backbone of your business.
During their WHY session, ESGC had to think about and commit to ways in which they integrate their purpose and values into the club’s ways of working. They identified recruitment, decision making and communication processes as initial areas of focus. A month after the session they had already put things in place to make this happen. They are currently thinking of creative ways to bring their WHY to life every day.
Step 4. Bring team WHY to life, reinforce engagement every day
It would be very disappointing to have done all the hard work described in the previous steps and to have created an awesome momentum with your team only to see it drift away with time.
Imagine if a year later, someone asked an employee to share the business’s WHY and their answer was “euhm wait a minute” trying to remember the words! What you really want is anyone in your business being able to articulate it with passion and an obvious personal connection. So how do you achieve that?
Yes, having the WHY at the heart of your strategies and decisions making is important (as detailed in step 3) but you can’t stop there. It must cascade into the operational processes until it becomes an integral part of the way you work. It’s all about making it easy for anyone interacting with your business (employees and customers alike) to know the WHY and connect with it every time.
This is the point that ESGC are at now. They want to make sure that everything is put in place so their WHY can live and thrive. For instance, they talked about it being visible to their team, members, and community by adding the statement and values to their website. Also using social media to communicate their passion and purpose in a consistent way.
Changing or shifting a culture doesn’t happen in a day because one person said so. Be patient and enjoy the journey. You’ll witness awesome teams become even more resourceful, innovative and fun; and more ideal customers and partners knocking on your door.
Being patient shouldn’t stop you from celebrating progress though. In fact, it’s so important that a whole step is dedicated to it.
Step 5. Celebrate your journey from good to great
Everyone loves to be part of a highly engaged team. Everyone likes to get a pat on the back and feel proud of what they have done or are a part of. Given clarity on your business WHY, building it with your team and putting things in place to bring it to life will also give you a way to measure how well you are moving toward it.
Catch people doing things right, look for actions and behaviours that display your WHY and make a public fuss about them. Then watch the engagement statistics go up and the costs of disengagement go down and celebrate that too with everyone! Keep doing this and you will not only have a higher internal brand but also an improved external brand, meaning that potential new employees and customers will be coming to you. That’s why high team engagement is important for people, business and the economy.
If this article sparked your motivation to experience this with your team, get in touch with us today: BOOK A CALL