Creating a Highly Engaged Workforce

In order to deal with people and issues at work we need to communicate. That means having conversations. You can't do a remarkable job without having remarkable conversations. You can't have remarkable relationships without having remarkable conversations.

New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss suggests that we can structure our lives to be successful and wealthy by only working four hours a week — it is all about spending your time wisely. Ferriss says that ‘a person's success in life can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have’. I agree with Ferriss that pushing through your fears and doing the tough stuff is all about getting things done and moving forward. I don't think it needs to be uncomfortable though. There is an easier way.

You may know them as high-performing organisations, the best places to work, or employers of choice. Whatever you want to call them, all top organisations are similar in that they each recognise the power of creating and sustaining great cultures, and the power of communicating and collaborating well. They know that their main competitive edge is not their products or services. It's their people. The people behind what they deliver. It's the people that design and make or break the next strategy. It's the people that create motivation and drive within the organisation. It's the people, people, people!

Fail to acknowledge people and you're deluding yourself (and doing them a disservice).

Think of the commonalities shared by top organisations with enormous reach. Without an incredible team of innovators, Apple would not be able to launch the Apple Watch or the next iPhone. Facebook would not be able to create such a socially engaging and addictive platform. Without remarkable people behind the scenes Virgin Galactic would not be taking people to space.

Ideas don't create themselves, nor do they implement themselves. Of course most projects have spokespeople and lead directors who drive the vision, marketing and ‘selling’ as they go, but they have a team behind them. Without that team, there's nothing to market or sell. It's easy to join the dots and say that making the most of your people should be a priority: focus on your people and the business will flourish. But employers can easily lose sight of their people, especially in times of economic stress.

Too many companies still haven't figured out that if they want the customer to come first they need to focus on cultivating a happy workplace: it's your people who are dealing with the customers.

We need to get the best from our people so our businesses can thrive. So we get it, right?! Right!

Then why is it that some of the biggest problems we have in organisations are our people? People, our greatest treasure, can also become our greatest liability. ‘People noise’ can become so loud sometimes that it makes it hard to implement anything. People noise is like white noise - it's always on in the background until we turn it off.

It is clear that minimising the people issues and creating a highly engaged workforce makes a difference. We're not talking about satisfaction for its own sake. We are talking about the cost implications of not investing in your people.

People noise is our constant whether we recognise it or not. The success of a great strategy and its implementation hinges on how well people work together. Harnessing this power as not just a manager, but as a ‘doer’, and reducing the people noise makes the process of working together easier and, dare I say, more enjoyable.

When I say ‘we’ I don't mean us or them. I mean you. The leader, the manager, the colleague. If you see there is something to be done then you need to do it. We often wait for someone else to take the lead, have that conversation, or set the tone. No wonder it doesn't happen. As Gandhi said, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’.