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Engagement: Please Cry at My Meetings, Suzanne Elshult, Executive Coach/HRNow

coaching-yak-finl-160-100Can crying at meetings be a measure of high engagement? I guess it depends. At my recent Hr Executive peer coaching group session on the topic of engagement one client organization shared that you will not infrequently find someone crying at one of their meetings. BUT, it is not crying out of sadness, but crying because an experience has been life changing and because of strength of feeling. For example, in companies like Starbucks and Google where employees/partners have the opportunity to go on missions in third world countries, experiences often become life-altering and in turn can deeply affect and lead to higher levels of engagement for employees “back home” as experiences are shared and stories are told.

True engagement is created “in the conversation” and in the development of a culture of belonging and inclusion. Starbucks is a great example of a company that is doing a good job of creating unique experiences for individuals –partners and customers – and focusing on what people truly care about, both from the perspective of product and human connection. In fact Starbucks has a brand monitoring initiative focussed on this alone. We have all heard about “the third place” which is now incidentally being extended to “the fourth place” – fostering sense of community digitally. Starbucks is relentless in it’s focus on helping partners connect with customers and meet them where they are. In fact partners connecting with customers at Starbucks is the single largest predictor of repeat purchase.

Do you agree that attracting the kind of partner/employee that will “fit” and engage with an organization is rooted in having a common belief in the mission and shared values? Starbucks knows exactly what kinds of employees that tend to succeed in their culture: leaders, social, independent, creative and open-minded. It also means that the organization has to be vigilant in continuously examining assumptions and making sure they listen to employees and what they care about. The recent change of the Starbucks tattoo policy provides a great backdrop for this discussion. Hiring of millennials is critical to Starbucks future and the organization is committed to providing employment opportunities for veterans. Both groups have embraced tattoos more than perhaps the general population. Starbucks reached out to employees/partners and listened. Result: a contemporized policy on tattoos. It can be as simple as that! Increase engagement by finding out what matters.

Do you agree that engagement is not in what you do to or for employees and customers, but it is “in the conversation” and what we do with them?


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