Engaging with Courage

Author: Aubrey K. Wiete, M.A. | Source: HCI | Published: September 27, 2013

As the 2013 Employee Engagement Conference wrapped up this past Wednesday, the energy of the sessions and wisdom of the speakers really got me thinking: there is a multitude of different ways to engage employees, but all begin with trust and authenticity.
 
Linda Stewart and Andy Atkins from Interaction Associates dug into how trust manifests in business today, and what behaviors leaders and employees can take to grow that level of confidence and reliability between them. I challenge you to think about your own career and consider how you perceive others and how they might perceive you. What makes you trust or distrust someone? What can you do to support accountability and reliability in your organization?
 
At a more granular level, Ellie Gates from Adobe walked us through how an organizational shift and refocus can be effectively executed. The world – and business in the world today - is more like a balance beam rather than solid ground, she said. And the movement toward ‘the cloud’ requires organizations and people to be more focused, nimble, courageous, and agile – all of which translates to more frequent and bigger changes than ever before.
 
But, as pretty and as inviting as ‘the cloud’ sounds, the inherent truth is that change is hard. And changing the status quo of business, increasing engagement, feedback and productivity requires innate courage.
 
Our final speaker of the conference was Bill Treasurer, who is the author of several books, blogs and articles on the topic of courageous leadership. While every session was significant and offered different lessons and guidance around employee engagement, Bill focused on the how. “Employee engagement is self-evident,” he said. “We don’t need more stats or more info. What we need is more backbone to apply what we’ve learned. We need more courage.”
 
It was a profound message and poignant way to end this event. Leaders often spend so much time making a business case, fleshing out the numbers, and looking for effects on productivity, that they can become mired in the minutiae. It’s critical to take a step back and look at your organization, your employees, and what really drives engagement, with a fresh perspective.
 
It’s a bittersweet feeling at the end of every event, but the end of the 2013 Employee Engagement Conference may be a bit more emotional for me than others. I learned so much from the speakers, the sponsors, and the attendees at this event, all under the roof of the fabulously ornate and beautiful Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. It’s daunting to take all of the knowledge I gained and apply it back home, but I’m going to dig deep and find the courage to do so and hope you will too. Let us know how it goes!
 
Until next year,
 
Aubrey