Engaging workplace colleagues can end up looking gimmicky. However, when done with a plan, purpose and heart, everyone makes a difference that makes your clients sit up and take notice.
However, typically everyone gets over-focused, caught up doing their job productively. Often, there is little time to develop connections with workplace colleagues. And those connections might be beneficial to becoming even more productive and collaborative.
As a result, we overlook some easy ways to engage workplace colleagues. Learning more about who our workplace colleagues are, what they are about and who else they are networked with in our organization’s ecosystem can make a difference. A difference to the input, throughput and output that creates extraordinary client outcomes. And that difference catalyzes customer success for customer retention.
Hack 1 – Develop affinity groups to engage workplace colleagues.
Affinity groups are discussion groups which attract employee engagement based on mutually shared experiences, common characteristics or interests. Even if your business is micro-level or a small business, employees often have more in common than being employed by the same employer. They just need the opportunity to discover – and discuss – these similarities, their affinities, don’t they?
Start by committing to creating 12, monthly, topic-focused programs for discussion and learning. In the hands of a skilled facilitator, everyone learns to appreciate the backgrounds, values and perspectives contributing to your workplace ecosystem on a daily basis.
Hack 2 – Create an employee book club to engage workplace colleagues.
Yes, a book club. Who has time to read, inside the workplace or outside? Well, some employees read and others don’t. Books are different than magazines. And those differences create disparities in professional perspective. To determine whether everyone is on the same page, I often poll employees when I conduct collaboration workshops: what is the latest book they read?
Committing not only to reading 6-12 books a year with each other, but also to discussing the insights from these books, becomes a great way to get employees used to sharing ideas. And sharing ideas, in a structured environment, is a great way to become used to collaborating with each other. Plus, everyone benefits by making reading a workplace, as well as lifestyle, priority.
Hack 3 – Engage workplace colleagues in volunteer initiatives.
Volunteeering is more than a nice “something” to list on your resume for current and future employers. Yes, many employers have an at least once-a-year requirement from employees. Some employees begrudgingly fulfill this obligation, while others find greater self-definition.
The point is, if you do not have this type of program in your organization, you are overdue to start one. Not only that. Leadership sets the example for the value – and heart – in volunteering, if they want employees to buy-into living it. Deciding, together, what the projects should be is, in itself, a collaboration exercise. Do not overlook how employee volunteerism engages workplace colleagues in a common activity that reinforces perceived value in outcomes created together, on behalf of others.
Hack 4 – Tackle a big, hairy workplace issue.
When employees perceive coming together in affinity groups, book clubs and volunteer activities as part of organizational culture, they are ready for bigger stuff. Engaging workplace colleagues in collaborating across departmental disciplines is the destination for today’s virtual, digitally connected organizational ecosystem.
While it would be glorious to hire exactly the type of employee you need, from the start, the majority of businesses do not have this “do over” luxury. Instead, starting small with doable hacks which bring employees together, creates safe places for collaboration. In addition, small wins gradually add up to create greater trust and confidence creating best practices and processes for complex problem-solving.
A cascading effect “happens” when everyone moves one millimeter outside their current comfort level with small wins.
Engaged workplace colleagues are more confident and competent workplace colleagues. In addition, these 4 doable hacks grow professional self-perception, as well as respect for the people inside and outside of their department.
As a result, employees are less risk-averse. They are ready to take on bigger issues, within the workplace, which impact customer acquisition and retention. Their actions catalyze an employee culture of relentless collaboration.
What programs do you currently have in place to engage workplace colleagues? Getting to where you want to go may be easier than you think. All it takes is the first step, forward.
Take the next steps towards engaging workplace colleagues.
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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