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Engaging your team - with Kirsty Waite

Ever wondered how you transition a disengaged team to an engaged one? Or what it means to have an engaged team? Kristy explains that an engaged person is loyal, proactive, committed to their work, and they are invested in what they do. An engaged team is aligned with the company’s values, and they are aligned with what they are doing. Opposite of the spectrum of being engaged, is being disengaged. Disengaged people do not know what they are working towards, and they are not aligned with their company’s goals. In the middle of the engagement spectrum is a big space in between being engaged and disengaged - these are the people that are neither actively disengaged, nor are they actively engaged.

How does engagement correlate with a high-performance team?

A high-performance team needs to be an engaged team. To have a high-performing team, you need to be a high-performing manager, who leads with intention and is conscious about how you lead your team. You do not need 100% of your team to be actively engaged for them to be high performing, but you do need the majority of them to be engaged. As a conscious leader, if someone is not engaged, you want to know the reason because you want to empower them and you want them to develop personally and professionally.

Empowering your team means that you are giving them the confidence to try something new and you are giving them the space to learn, develop and fail, and eventually learn again. It is about trusting them to do their job and giving them the confidence that they can trust and believe in their selves. This will, in turn, help them to become independent and think for themselves so that you as a manager do not have to micromanage them.

Leading your team to become more engaged

What do you mean by leading a team?

Your team is supposed to know in which direction they are going and what they are working towards; they should be on board with the vision that you are trying to create. You are leading them towards the objectives of what you or the company is trying to achieve, and it is about making sure that your team has the resources and tools to do it.

Conscious leadership

Being a conscious leader is about being aware of everything: you are aware of yourself as a leader, the people in the team, the work situation, and the environment. It is important to be a conscious leader because you have to be aware of how you lead those teams so that you can see what is missing or what is needed in order for them to be a high-performing team.

New managers tend to follow the route of traditional leadership where they do most of the delegated work because they have a fear of letting go. They are reluctant to trust their team because they fear that their reputation might be dented if they let go and let the team do their job.

If you think that you should be the one who has the most knowledge in your team, then you are hindering your team from being a high-performance team because all the team members should bring various knowledge and skills to the table so that you can have a multi-skilled team.

Advice to managers who say they do not have the time to invest in their team

You cannot afford not to invest time to engage with your team because it will only get worse from there. You will hinder your team from developing as leaders themselves and getting into leadership positions. Your team is going to be disempowered, they are going to lose interest, they are not going to develop, and they are going to look elsewhere for guidance and support. You need to invest in your team because they are the ones who are going to create the success that you envision.

If you do not invest in your team, they will float around and stay in that middle ground between being engaged and being actively disengaged. The majority of people are stuck in that middle ground, and it is your duty to try and expand the amount of actively engaged people and reduce the number of people that are stuck in the middle. You measure if your team is transitioning into an engaged team by looking at their performance which includes if your company is retaining employees, employee loyalty and how happy your workforce is.

Steps on how to lead consciously

  1. Take a step back, let go of your ego and take feedback from your team - ask if there is something that you are not aware of or if something in the workplace needs your attention.

  2. Be consistent – if you say you are going to do something, then do it, because that creates trust which leads to a more engaged team.

  3. Be honest and vulnerable with your team – ask for help, show that you do not know it all, and show that there is a human side; lead them with empathy.

  4. Create the space for your team to develop and fail in order for them to grow.

Conclusion: Transitioning from a disengaged team to an engaged one

Transitioning from a disengaged team to an engaged one comes down to self-awareness and reflection, understanding who we are and how we are showing up. Remember, you cannot have an engaged team when you are doing their work for them. Take a step back and ask what your team needs, what is the objective that you need to reach, and establish what is missing. Assess why your team is disengaged and support them to become engaged, rather than giving them the solution. Don’t be afraid to ask what support you can offer in the workplace. Lastly, communicate what your expectations are and be clear about your team’s responsibilities and where they fit in.

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