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7 Ways To Engage People

Looking for some tips on really getting people engaged with what we do, I came across this great article by leadership expert Kevin Eidenberry. It’s so pertinent to the Savvy Team philosophy of teamwork that I just had to share it.

As Eidenberry says, engagement is a very trendy word, and while it is powerful, people are making it harder to understand and think about than is necessary. So to ‘engage’ people, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Let’s talk about what people really want in their lives. Because when they have these they will automatically and effortlessly be engaged in happily and effectively doing the work that’s required.

The following list won’t really surprise you, because it includes many of the things you want too.

Keep in mind that your people are people, and as individuals we certainly all want more of these things in both our personal lives and our work environment.

Remember when (and if) you provide them, engagement automatically ensues – so as leaders it’s your job to make sure you engage your people by ensuring that all seven of these things are obvious – because generally we are all much happier, more effective and co-operative when we get clarity about them!


People want to be a part of something useful, valuable, and bigger than themselves.  Help people see how what they are doing makes a difference for others, for the community, the world or whatever.  Make sure people can see the mission of the organization and how they can fit in to it.  Even more importantly, help them see why this mission is important.


People want to know what is expected of them and what behaviors are valued.  When people know what is really expected, they work with less stress and higher confidence and productivity. Do your team members know what you expect of them?  Do they really know? Have you taken time (lately) to discuss and clarify the expectations and needs of the work?


People are naturally competitive (if only with themselves), so help them compete by giving them (or helping them create) goals. Whether the work is highly creative or more mundane and repetitive, goals drive satisfaction and fun.  Do your people have clear targets to shoot for in every aspect of what they are doing?


Human beings want to feel connected to other people, and work is a logical place to have that need met – after all we spend more waking hours at work than in any other activity. Does the working environment allow for and promote the development of strong working relationships? Do people feel a personal connection to you? To the rest of the team?


The people who do the work have a valuable perspective. They have ideas, and they’d like to share them. You don’t need to implement every idea, or accept every solution suggested; but if you openly ask for and value those ideas, some will make a difference.  And the process of asking will engage people in powerful ways. Are you making it easy (and expected) for people to share their ideas?


People want to be around people who believe in them.  We will do our best work when we know that those around us want the best for us and believe we can achieve the best.   Do you believe in the capacity and potential of your people?  If so, do they know?  If not, why not?


We are talking about human beings here, not robots – and people don’t want to be robots.  Even in the most regulated and procedure-driven job, there is room for freedom and personal choices.  Are you giving people the chance to express themselves and make adjustments, while still reaching the quality and quantity targets a job requires?

The good news for every leader or manager reading these words is that you can create an environment and lead in a way to provide more of these.  These are in your control, regardless of your industry or company culture.

Notice this list doesn’t include pay.  Do people need money and look for it from their work?  Of course – that doesn’t mean more pay will automatically create greater job performance.  So let’s be clear: pay is important and it only goes so far.  Commitment, motivation, work ethic, and yes, engagement, are not based on pay.


Article On Leadership And Supervisory Skills

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