Deciphering the Secret to Engagement

Engagement impacts performance and bottom-line results profoundly, yet today only 29% of employees say they are engaged in most organizations, and a mere 10% are highly engaged. Any wonder there is such obsession with building and enhancing engagement?

If you’re concerned with getting people more positively involved in your organization or team, then Spiral Dynamics® programs can help you to decipher the secret of human nature, motivation, and engagement. There are four unique “spiral” steps to help you with this.

Step1: Map the Landscape

Keep in mind that engagement occurs within a psychosocial landscape. Individual leaders navigate a particular context that involves their direct reports, peers, customers, the organizational and competitive environment. Each worker has to negotiate a unique landscape that brings out their best or worst, or draws out only a bit of energy and talent. Teams operate in a culture where they interact with organizational processes, structures, systems, and messages. You can use our tools to map the terrain and track the values, beliefs, key patterns, and norms—both the written and unstated ones—in the context you seek to understand.

Step 2: Identify the Engagement Phase

Treat engagement like fuel that needs topping up regularly. Are you adding, maintaining, or draining engagement? It is likely that you’ll find a mixed bag of engagement results. Some people will be positively engaged and show it. Others will be engaged but won’t look like it; their fuel gauges are stuck. Others will be disengaged and need fueling. Still others might once have been actively engaged but have become passively involved now; their tanks are low and conserving energy. Some might even have shifted to actively negative—depleted and resentful that refueling hasn’t been attempted.

You need to identify the phase(s) of engagement, and institute a variety of approaches to match them for individuals, teams, departments, groups, and leaders. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work. Spiral Dynamics will help you understand the Engagement Matrix of your organization.

Step 3: Apply the Design Question

If you’ve already uncovered who is engaged, their forms of engagement, and why they are either engaged or disengaged, then you’re ready to apply a version of what we call the Design Question:How should who engage with whom to do what, when?

You use the Spiral Dynamics® assessments to take psychosocial pictures of leaders and followers; workers and their work; managers and their direct reports; salespeople and customers; organizational culture and employees. Compare those results and profiles with the context and each other. What fits? What doesn’t? Where are the gaps and mismatches? What can be reassembled into a more coherent whole? What approaches will be congruent with whom? What form(s) of engagement are needed? Our models and tools can help you to go beneath the surface of positive and negative engagement.

Step 4: Build Congruence

Once you’ve completed steps 1 through 3, you’ll have many of the building blocks you’ll need to build congruence for more positive engagement in your workplace or project team. Because engagement is the end result of congruent connections and interactions between people and processes, this final step is about matching and fit. With plenty of approaches available, you want to evaluate which will best match the people, their engagement form and their context. Get this right and you’ll achieve the results you’re after.

But, remember, engagement is a flow process not a destination! You’ll need to keep an eye on organizational change and dynamics to keep improving engagement moving forward.