Articles

Unleashing Employee Engagement in the Organisation

February 06, 2021 - By Peter Jordan, Associate, BA History, Geography and Environmental Science, BA Hons History

In 2015 Legitimate Leadership introduced the first Grow to Care workshops. These are intended for employees who do not have others reporting to them. Although the fundamental precepts of leadership are covered, the focus is not on leadership as such but rather on establishing the criteria for excellence in individual contribution and on gaining commitment to making a personal contribution in the workplace and beyond.

Furthermore, the workshop has the objective of taking the ethos of legitimate leadership down to the lowest levels and establishes a common vocabulary throughout an organisation.

If successfully implemented beyond the workshop, the Grow to Care intervention thus has the profoundly benevolent outcome of unleashing willingness to contribute at the level where the customer interface is the most immediate.

CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH SUPPORT THE ACHIEVEMENT OF TANGIBLE BENEFITS AT THE WORKPLACE

As is the case with any workshop, achieving real benefits will depend on what happens both before and after. Experience has shown that if there is not active line manager commitment, if participants are not properly prepared for the workshop, and if there is not pertinent post-workshop interaction, the benefits of attending will be diluted or may only be manifest outside of the workplace.

LINE MANAGER COMMITMENT

It is essential that first line managers are on board with the principles of legitimate leadership before their reports attend the Grow to Care workshop. Obviously in the absence of this condition, managers will be disenabled in supporting the intervention.

Having said this, there should not be too much of a time lapse before the exposure of first line managers and their subordinates attending Grow to Care. In a major intervention undertaken by Legitimate Leadership, first line managers were exposed to the introduction and application modules in 2013 and 2014 but their subordinates only attended Grow to Care in 2016. This gave rise to a decline in momentum and the dilution of benefits.

The prior exposure of higher management to legitimate leadership concepts is therefore necessary but certainly not sufficient to successfully launch Grow to Care. Management also needs to be actively and enthusiastically committed to the precepts and the need to cascade them to their subordinates.

At one organisation, the conducting of Grow to Care workshops was resisted by a minority of first line managers, despite this being supported by their senior management. The reasons for this were not clearly articulated but seemed to have stemmed from:

Intellectual arrogance in believing that the concepts were either beyond the comprehension of factory operators or that there was no benefit in exposing them.
Perhaps of a more sinister nature, the fear that if operators were exposed to what makes a manager a legitimate leader, they would hold their managers upwardly accountable.

These first line managers sent their reports to the workshop with great reluctance (to avoid censure from their seniors). The result was that little or no benefit was derived. Fortunately as noted, they were a minority of the first line managers.

It may be going too far to state that managers should not be permitted to nominate their subordinates for Grow to Care until they themselves have been “certified as competent” in their knowledge of and their willingness to implement Care and Growth. However if this is not the case, benefits will be significantly diluted.

PREPARING DELEGATES FOR THE GROW TO CARE WORKSHOP

Managers who are not committed will either not prepare their people for attending the workshop or do so very poorly. Even committed managers may not do so adequately unless they are aware of the crucial importance of doing so.

Before arrival delegates should have been given a synopsis of the workshop objectives. This would include the following:

The workshop is linked to the leadership modules which their managers have been attending. It will therefore give them some insight into the content.
The workshop will enhance their personal excellence, particularly with regard to their ability to contribute in all spheres of life.

Experience has shown that if delegates are equipped with this pre-knowledge they will arrive at the workshop with enthusiasm.

In a current intervention, first line managers were given the preparation and debriefing of their nominees for the workshop as a “workplace application assignment”. They are expected to report back to their coach in this regard. This has worked extremely well.

POST-WORKSHOP INTERACTION

Having conducted the first series of Grow to Care Workshops in 2016, delegates asked the question, “So what happens next?” They had left the workshop enthused with the desire to contribute but were not certain about how to apply this back at work.

Two aspects were addressed to answer the delegates’ question:

The issue of post-workshop application is now dealt with more explicitly in the workshop content.
The delegates’ managers were given guidance as to the importance of engaging with their reports after the workshop and to the nature of this engagement.

As already mentioned, in the current intervention delegates were given a specific workplace assignment as reproduced below:

WORKPLACE APPLICATION ASSIGNMENT

Within a week of one of your reports returning from a Grow to Care workshop meet with him to:

Ask him to share his experience of the workshop with you.
Compare notes on what it means to contribute and what a powerful team means.
Ask her how you can help her and the team to contribute more.
Ask her if there are things she can do more of, less of, or differently to increase her contribution and that of the team.

CONCLUSION

Grow to Care has enormous organisational development potential. However this will only be fully realised with the commitment and support of delegates’ immediate managers. Even committed managers may miss the opportunity of preparing their reports for the workshop and in debriefing them after the workshop. These aspects therefore need to be made explicit.

Peter Jordan
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