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Facilitation. Why? Ownership Involvement and Employee Engagement

As I was updating some of my orientation thoughts in some of the toolkits I sell, I got into thinking more about why I do what I do and why I think it is so darn important for organizations. Like everyone, much of my present-day thinking builds on my early experiences, so I think about how Dorothy Irons “beat” me into a great customer-service bellhop and how much I learned in my first organizational consulting experiences.

There have been other writings about Dorothy, but one simple thing she did every day was ask this new employee (me) what guests were coming to the hotel and how many in the party and what room they were in (we scheduled all that – we only had 65 rooms at the resort). It did not take me long to figure out that she was always going to ask me that and that I needed to look at the reservations first thing every morning. Simply put, that little bit of preparation allowed me to guess pretty well as who just pulled into our parking and allowed me to grab a room key and meet them at the car. And that pleasant little surprise (for them) got me Great Tips! Over the years, I taught that kind of service commitment in my consulting and training business.

My experience as a consultant (1978) was grounded in involving and engaging workshop participants to define the issues and opportunities in the workplace and then generate some working pilot programs to see if they could incorporate those ideas into improvements that had impacts on results. I did the workshops and then worked on the shop floor to help implement, MBWA, support, reinforce and correct things as needed.

Most of these pilot tests they implemented were successful and they linked to measured improvements ($$). The weakness was that I did not involve and engage the workers’ managers sufficiently to get them to want to do the simple things needed to maintain them. When I was no longer there, things often slowed to a halt (even with the measurable payoff!).

And the paradox of that continued — As my experience grew, I would often “short-cut” the engagement workshop process to save time, not realizing that this was also reducing the ownership-involvement of the participants. Even though making improvements made sense, “they” were not always interested.

Thus, I became very aware that ownership was a critical key to improving and sustaining effectiveness. And the resulting cartoon looked like this:

Pretty predictably, leadership will resist change if they are not INVOLVED AND ENGAGED in that change

So, you work hard to get the people involved and engaged in the theme of making improvements in the workplace and you get the wagon ready to start rolling downhill and what do the managers do? The feel the pressure at their backs and they dig in their heels. The resistance can take active or passive forms, but it is resistance, nevertheless.

Facilitation is the key. And having the supervisors and managers DO that facilitation is another key. This is one of the reasons why training so often fails: Managers are not supportive of the training and the new behaviors because they have no active stake in the improvement or they feel that they are observers and not participants.

Strategy Implementation so often fails because the Most Senior Managers generate the strategy and simply expect the supervisors and managers to buy in and take risks and learn new behaviors and all that.

That will work, right?  (No!)

Get my toolkit on Facilitation for $35 at the PMC website

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1 Comment

  1. I have a similar watershed moment in my past that forever forced me to look at ownership and engagement. I once worked on a team that created software for our sales force, but we excluded tools for their managers and regional managers (budget reasons and political reasons). We had great sales improvements for a short time, but without the support of their superiors, those gains were eventually lost.

    That past event also taught me the invaluable lesson of creating an environment of ownership and engagement that is not depended on a person’s position in the company’s org chart.

    Good Hunting.

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