Three ways to engage your people in Projects

To create a following for a revolution, you need three things; A vision, a plan, and a plan B.  Creating engagement with your people may not be as dramatic but follows a very similar process.

As people, we all want to be a part of a winning story.  The next revolution, the start of something new, a change, an improvement, a legacy; these are all terms which ignites a flame within us, whether we realise it or not.  No matter if this is the roll out of a small system upgrade or rebuilding villages in rural third world countries, to stay interested we all want to feel that we are involved in making something better.

Here are our three guides to engage your people and keep them interested.

Provide a vision.  Now, before you launch into your sales spiel to your people, it is key to find out what is important to them in general but particularly in their work – what would light them up.  This information will help you to deliver the vision in a way that speaks to their interest.  For example, let’s say the vision is to upgrade the company’s accounting software.  The business decision behind this is to reduce licensing fees, to provide a consolidated accounting tool and to improve staff efficiency by automating certain processes.  Knowing that a key goal is to reduce working extra hours because of the strain on their personal lives, the vision you promote are the additional hours which can be gained back through automation.

Outline a game plan.  Visions are terrific however to maintain engagement, your people need to feel confident that there is a plan.  A plan also helps to personalise the vision, it enables people to fit into the vision by understanding what role they play.  This plan should include a sequential view of the strategy, what needs to be done, the roles everyone plays, and timings.  Plans don’t need to be, and in fact, should not be complicated. When done well, plans should act to motivate individuals working through the tasks.  Seeing your own progress through tasks you complete as well as the impact it has on achieving the overall vision, goes a long way in maintaining engagement.  It also brings with it a sense of pride which often people then want to share with others.

Learn, grow and celebrate.  Similar to a plan B, it is important to show your people how you overcome challenges, failings and bad decisions.  Acknowledging that sometimes you collectively may not get things right is generally always met with acceptance if you are committed to learn and grow from these experiences.  Growing from lessons develops comradery, encourages innovation and breeds trusts.  Developing this level of engagement typically leads to long-term commitment and long-lasting relationships.  And finally celebrate mini achievements as well as milestone wins.  Acknowledge the work people do and celebrate their dedication in simple or extravagant ways.  From examples of a top-notch muffin, to movie tickets, to a day off, people will remain engaged if they know their efforts are appreciated.

In summary, people will remain engaged if they are interested.  Your job is to find their interests!

By Karine O’Donnell