June 18, 2008

Engage – to get Engaged!

Engagement is one very hot topic! Find out why.

As the theatrical spot lights come to life, they are focused on one person. Kevin Moriarity, the magnetic new Artistic Director of the Dallas Theatre Center steps to the podium. Yes, he is about to speak about the new theatre season at one of the nation’s most respected regional theatres, but what he is really going to talk about is --- engagement. In fact, of the goals he outlined recently to a packed audience, see what word pops out in goal # 1 “Engage the audience in meaningful conversations, stimulated and inspired by the work on stage.”

Is engagement a hot word? You bet it is, and for good reason. From the race for the White House to the Gap store on the corner, people are talking about what happens when we are (and are not) engaged.

We see that employees who are engaged - get engaged. They pick up the work, connect with it and get it done properly. And they often get it done with the flare and creativity that comes from totally engaging their brain resources.

When we look at issues such as workplace productivity, there is a direct linkage between productivity and engagement and there should be. When we are not connected our pace drops, our focus shifts and we begin to slide into a trance like state in which our breathing slows, thoughts come slower and we are about out for the count. Imagine that state answering your customer telephone calls??

Jeffrey Gitomer, renowned sales author and selling guru recently wrote a long piece on retail shopping in Las Vegas. Now most people don’t go to Las Vegas to shop, but Jeffrey did. What he experienced in shop after shop was Lack of Engagement by the store salespeople. May I help you? What is that all about after decades of deriding this as the world’s poorest sales opening? Some of Jeffrey’s thoughts about his shopping un-spree included:

  • “The merchandise is all attractive. Like the lure of Las Vegas, everything glitters. And the customers are all in a festive mood. People with bags. Big bags full of purchases that they just made. Walking around the mall looking to make even more purchases.”
  • “The paradox is the salespeople. As good as the mall is, as good as the merchandise is, as good as the customer ready to buy is -- that’s how bad the salespeople are.”
  • “Or, if you actually need sales help, often the sales clerks are talking to each other. At the more expensive shops, there’s a security officer at the door looking stoic, almost mean. Interesting personality type to set the tone for your visit.”

So what have we learned about engagement? Clearly, pointing a finger at the salesperson in the Las Vegas store does NO good. She quits or gets fired, she takes what she has learned with her and the store ends up the loser. And then we start again. We have to go back to where the disengagement begins and work on the problem there.

But do we do any better in our own organizations? Would you be surprised at the talent in your team if you brought them all together and challenged them for solutions to the problems facing your organization? Learn what to do and not do in my next post.

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