‘Lack of engagement from the team’ is an issue that comes up frequently and there may be a good reason why! Afterall, how often do you truly enable and empower your employees to be part of the ‘decision making’? How often do you create opportunities for solutions to be generated as part of a truly collaborative process? How often do you ask for feedback and take it onboard?
I’m guessing the answer is, “not often enough”! Some of you will no doubt be saying “I haven’t got time for this” but please hear me out.
If you can remember back to a situation where you were told to work differently, having never been given an opportunity to comment or contribute to the changes that were being made, you will know it doesn’t feel great! It’s therefore not surprising that only 3 in 8 employees (Gallup) are fully engaged with their jobs.
So, what can be done?
To create a spirit of collaboration and team engagement, your leadership team must abandon the old-fashioned top-down approach to decision making and embrace new ways of working. Of the four possible approaches to decision making the last two are my favourite:
👑 Top-down (hierarchical) – the most senior person decides, or they can delegate. Either way, they get the last word even if others disagree.
🗳 Vote – something we’re all familiar with. Everybody has an equal vote and the majority wins.
🤔 Consensus – a way of reaching an agreement in a group that is creative, dynamic, and cooperative. It means working together to find solutions that everyone supports (or is at least okay with).
👩💻 Advice Process – Everyone has the power to make a decision but first advice must be obtained 1) from experts in the area, and 2) the people who will be meaningfully affected by the decision. All advice must be carefully considered before the final decision is made! If you want to learn more about this way of working, I suggest reading Reinventing Organisations by F. Laloux.
Experience tells me the most successful and forward-thinking organisations empower their people to make decisions. To share in this success, you need to kick-start collaboration, creativity and generation of innovative solutions that work.
Here are two simple and effective tools that you can start using straight away!
The importance of brainstorming sessions shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s unlikely that you will come up with an excellent idea or a solution without spending some time simply brainstorming. Their optimum duration is 30 minutes and they may well deliver the gold dust you need to make them worth every second.
By involving different team members, you will create diversity and that will help you see things from different perspectives giving you a better chance of coming up with an idea that works. Remember that brainstorming isn’t about coming up with ‘the solution’, instead it’s a time to celebrate even the craziest of ideas.
🚩Top tip! Foster positivity – embrace “Yes, and… ” approach
When you are in the flow of generating ideas, no matter how crazy or seemingly unfeasible they may be, it’s important not to kill the flow by saying ‘no’. ‘No’ must be banned from your vocabulary as it stops the creative process and potentially leaves the person who generated the idea feeling uncomfortable and unlikely to contribute further.
A separate meeting should be set up to discuss the feasibility and logistics of all the ideas put forward, ideally using something like Six Thinking Hats (read on to find out more).
While brainstorming, say ‘yes’ to ideas and add to them by building on each other’s suggestions. For example, let’s introduce ‘bring your dog to work day’; yes great! and let’s add pet insurance to our flexible benefit scheme; and let’s have treats available for dogs in the office.
Brainstorming games are a great way of engaging your team, generating innovative ideas, and creating a fun and stimulating working environment.
“The 3-12-3 Brainstorm”
During our first-ever Master Practitioners Club Annual Get Together back in 2019, we played a game called “3-12-3 Brainstorm”. It only takes 30 minutes to play with 10 people! Three minutes are spent individually on generation of free-associations in relation to a specific topic, twelve minutes on concept development in groups and three minutes on presentation of ideas to other groups.
Our goal was to create a great onboarding process for new joiners to a business and some amazing solutions were generated at the back of it. “3-12-3 Brainstorm” can be used to find solutions or improvements to anything you wish to explore. This could be a client journey, new business processes, client reports or service propositions…the list is endless!
If you work remotely and struggle to see how you could make this work with your team, I suggest using one of my favourite online collaboration tools called Mural or if you are looking for a free and very basic tool Jamboard.
For more ideas on brainstorming games you may wish to check out 👉 https://gamestorming.com/.
2. Six Thinking Hats
Edward De Bono first introduced the idea of the Six Thinking Hats in 1971 in his book Lateral Thinking for Management, but it wasn’t until 1985 when The Six Thinking Hats book was published that the idea really gained prominence.
The method is based on lateral and parallel thinking approaches, which help deliver clarity of thought within the group, by steering each person’s thinking in the same direction, using ‘six hats’. It can deter arguments from breaking out, as well as helping to make sure everybody gets their say, in a constructive manner!
The Six Thinking Hats are:
A great facilitator is required to wear the ‘blue’ hat and manage the thinking process. It’s important to use rounds and ensure that each individual voices their views and ideas.
Depending on a topic, it can be helpful to start and finish with the red hat to see how everyone is feeling before debating a topic, and before the end of the meeting – to see if anything has changed.
Here is a really useful video that summarises the process of using Six Thinking Hats 👉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHiwpz7r4wY.
I give you every encouragement to try something new! I hope that you will implement at least some of my suggestions and create a truly exceptional workplace. It will transform your business!
If you are a member of our Master Practitioners Club, here are some of the relevant resources you can find in our library:
- Decision making & how to get your ideas across with Dominika Sieradzka
- Using Design Thinking to generate innovative solutions to business issues with Dominika Sieradzka (material available to members who attended MPC Annual Get Together 2021)
- Psychology of Implementation & How to Get It Right with Dominika Sieradzka
- Why a Thinking Environment? with Rebecca Timmins of When We Think
- Leading Change: how to prepare for being acquired or to acquire whilst keeping the culture alive and your teams engaged through uncertainty by Progeny
- Empathy map
- Six Thinking Hats
- Stop Start Continue
- Time to Think Meeting Agenda & Resources (created by When We Think)
If you are not a member why not consider joining us now 👉 htps://rie.solutions/services/master-practitioners-club/.