Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Archive for June 2009

Networking and Engagement

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I recently exchanged thoughts with a fellow member of David Zinger’s Employee Engagement Network (EEN),    Frode Heiman who blogs at Never Mind the Manager.  This post uses excerpts from that conversation-thank you Frode and David.

Frode invited me to be one of his “friends” on the EEN and as we had met one of my personal criteria for becoming “friends”…we actually had a good conversation…I was happy to get the invitation.

I don’t mean to sound snobbish but it really does make a difference if you are selective as to who you choose to closely network with, as opposed to casual exchanges. There is work involved in truly networking with others, and we all have only so much time to devote to such activities.

I have seen too many instances of forums being used for personal advancement, plugging either services or “come visit my blog” without offering any real contribution of value when doing so. There is a fine balance between just using a platform solely for advertising, or actually contributing and then plugging yourself.

The more I think about it, the more participation / contribution on forums and other social media is a classic manifestation of engagement. People must feel motivated to contribute, which involves setting aside a portion of their scarce discretionary time. They must put forth extra effort, but must also get something out of the effort—personal satisfaction.

Going back to Maslow, people have a basic need to belong. There are a lot of joiners who collect network and group affiliations and scads of “personal” connections like they were cheap baseball cards. But engagement is more than joining and more than basic involvement. It takes not only a high level of contribution, but it must provide a high level of satisfaction for the contributor.

What engages each of us to hang out on any particular forum? And what does it take to engage, to the point where we want to contribute and where we gain from our involvement?

Networking and engagement are all about making connections and exchanging ideas. And, the very simple recognition from others of your thoughts you have shared results in a nice dose of fuzzy / feelgood. That is something we all crave, and it doesn’t take much. And, it encourages people to contribute more.
Translated: very engaging.
Engagement and what triggers it in individuals is highly personal (my opinion). But engagement is contagious. The enthusiasm and energy an engaged person emanates begets the same in others. And engagement carries over from the original engaging environment too. The power of engagement is such that, whatever the source, the engaged person’s other areas of activity benefit as well. If I am engaged at work or on a forum it will “spill over” into the other areas of my life.

What if the power of my engagement resulted in others around me becoming more engaged?  And those peoples’ engagement would then impact others around them, and on and on…the Kevin Bacon thing.

Soapbox in closing….society is, generally speaking, a mess. A heaping helping of engagement would do wonders. And it doesn’t take much to start the engagement ball rolling.

“Hey President Obama…where’s my emotional stimulus check?”


Written by Craig

June 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Engagement

Tagged with ,

America’s Promise, Crisis In Education

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(UPDATE for readers-there is the beginning of a good conversation here. Be sure to visit the related links, check out the comments to this post and add your thoughts!)

While I do have an Education category I don’t post nearly as much about education issues as I’d like. But this caught my eye. You business and industry leaders who frequent this blog, take note if you want to pay more than lip service to Corporate Social Responsibility. Get involved in Education….this is our future workforce that is at risk, and I at least want to do my part to raise the awareness level of the business community. Don’t let the downturn and high unemployment lull you to sleep. There is a real and significant near-term workforce shortage looming ahead. And what there is in the labor pool is woefully unprepared. We need to get serious!

Gen. Colin Powell was just in the news lamenting our poor (US) graduation rate. As this is right up my alley, I dug a little deeper. Powell and his wife are both involved in America’s Promise Alliance. The organization’s statement of purpose:

We are an alliance born of the recognition that when too many children are at risk, we are a nation at risk. With less than one-third of America’s young people receiving the essential resources they need for success, we’re witnessing today an increased risk of substance abuse, crime and school drop outs. We can’t afford this loss of human potential and reversing this tide must be a national priority.

One of the Alliance’s National Action Strategies is Ready for the Real World… Engage every middle school student in service-learning and career exploration by designing “real-world” experiences relevant to them.

Why is this important? From America’s Alliance: “Many students who ultimately drop out of school say they become disengaged during the middle-school years. The choices young people make at this age could set them on a course for active citizenship and engaged learning – or down a path of risky behavior and potential failure.”

The Alliance has partnered with Gallup, which conducted the Gallup Student Poll. See the Gallup Student Poll Report. Gallup is a leading proponent of engagement in the workplace, and the design of the study and content of this report shows it.  I’ve posted elsewhere that a key issue in education is disengagement, of both students and teachers. (see Engagement Goes to School) We’re simply not hitting the right student hot buttons.

The issues facing education, and especially pertaining to engagement, are something I can really sink my teeth into as a business person, parent, grandparent, educator and camper who wants to leave this campground in better shape than I found it.

How about you?