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Influence as it Relates to Engagement

My bagel shop experience

Last week I went to a bagel shop for lunch. The young man behind the counter could barely muster up the small amount of energy required to accurately record my order. I ordered tea and he handed me a cup. I managed to find the tea bags on my own but when I went to the coffee bar, I discovered there was no hot water. Returning to the counter, I asked him about it and he replied, “Oh yeah, I need to do that from behind here.” Then (and this gave me hope for him) he asked if I wanted the cup filled to the brim. I replied, “No. Thanks for asking. Please leave some room for cream. “ He certainly did that—he left about four inches! Then I went back to the coffee bar only to find out there was no cream. So back I trotted to the counter…

These kids today—not!

Before you jump to conclusions about “youth today,” please understand that I have had similar scenarios played out in front of me when the employee tasked with helping me was my age or older. So, from my experience, it’s not generational. And it happens in corporate and government settings, not just fast food.

Lack of Employee Engagement

Leaders need to learn how to engage employees

It has to do with lack of engagement.

According to the 2015 Global Human Capital Trends1 study published in Deloitte University Press, “…employee engagement and culture issues exploded onto the scene, rising to become the No. 1 challenge around the world in our study,” with 87% of organizations citing it as one of their top challenges.

Kevin Kruse, in a Forbes magazine article2 defined the issue. “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.” 2

Engagement and its relationship to influence

If you’re trying to influence someone, whether it’s your boss, a subordinate, a co-worker, your teen or your spouse, if that person is not engaged, then good luck! The conundrum is that, in order to engage others, you need to be able to influence them. One of the many benefits of influence is the ability to engage.

Engagement can be accomplished through fear or influence—your choice. Which is your leadership style? Fear will certainly get the job done but it’s a short-term gain. And doesn’t intimidation take a lot out of you? I might have tried to intimidate that young man into providing better service but the cost to my well-being for the rest of the day would have been too dear. I doubt he’d have felt any better, either.

Influence will ensure that the job gets done even when you’re not around.

The Law of Attraction and influence

The Law of Attraction dictates, “You get more of what you focus on.” If, when you are attempting to engage others you are doing so with the mindset that they need to be “fixed,” then what will continue to present itself is more evidence that they are broken and unable to meet the requirements of the job.

Start with the premise that everyone wants to be engaged!

Think about that for a moment. If you were given the choice between being fully involved and bored to distraction, which would you choose? The same is true for everyone but many do not know how to do this for themselves. That’s where your leadership skills come in as you influence them to get involved at a deeper level.

There are many things that keep people from engaging. One of the most important is that they have no say in how they do whatever it is you are asking them to do.

Allow them to “own” the job. 

We bemoan the fact that others won’t take responsibility for their work and then we insist they do it our way. The quickest way to allow others to grab ownership of whatever you’re asking them to do is a two-step process:

Step 1 – Statement:

Here’s the end result I’m looking for: _____________________________

(make sure it’s achievable and measurable.

Step 2 – Question:

What do you think a good approach might be?

If the person is planning to use a method that’s against company policy or doesn’t take into consideration some pertinent facts, then some coaching from you is in order. However, if the only reason you want to correct his approach is because you have a better idea, then keep it to yourself. How is this person going to learn if you do all the thinking for him? And how can he experience self-worth if all he’s doing is carrying out someone else’s solution?

And what if (this is a sacrilege, I know) his idea turns out to be better than how you would have done it?

The thrill of seeing the spark ignite.

Nothing is more exciting or fulfilling than igniting a spark in someone else. In the case of engagement, you won’t always have a lighter at hand to create an instant flame. More often, it resembles the approach we learned in Scouting—two sticks patiently rubbed together until a spark catches the kindling.

And how satisfying when it happens!

I’d love to hear your experiences of how you have used your influence to spark someone’s engagement in a process or job. Tell me what worked and what didn’t.

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For more information on having Silver work with your company on employee engagement, call 877-840-5416 or email: Info@SilverSpeaks.com


1 2015 Global Human Capital Trendshttp://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html OR search: Deloitte 2015 Global Human Capital Trends

2 Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers. and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/06/22/employee-engagement-what-and-why/