Engage my emotions and I’ll follow your lead

Wouldn’t it be great if you could change the way your staff think and act today to create business performance change?

Unfortunately, most businesses focus on changing structures, processes and all the operational parts of a business first. These are the tangible parts of a business, they are black and white, look good on charts and are easier to quantify than the ‘softer’ parts of a business.

Putting people first

So why do organisations focus on these areas first? Frankly, many senior managers are uncomfortable dealing with the people issues; they may not be sure how to engage people in a way that will truly engage them, or how to create an environment where they can listen, learn, discuss and conclude for themselves why the changes need to take place. If you focus on your people first (and do it in the right way), then the operational changes will be supported and embedded by your people, rather than running the risk that many of your employees will resist them because they’ve not bought into them.

The second problem is that managers pay lip service to the engagement of their staff through a combination of speed and ignorance. They use the tried and tested traditional ways of communicating with staff: CEO briefings, roadshows, magazines and e-mags and PowerPoint cascaded through staff briefings.

People need to be engaged emotionally as well as rationally. There is enough evidence now to show that we make our decisions – be it a purchase decision or a decision to change the way we do things – based primarily on emotional grounds, and we then look for rational data to evidence our conclusions. The traditional forms of communication tend to focus on the rational side of things – showing people the performance graphs and the 2 x 2 matrices of analysis, which is interesting, but doesn’t change the way we look at things.

Tell your story!

Emotional engagement comes from a passionate vision, a motivating rationale for change in the midst of cut-throat competition, a point of difference for your Brand, customer comments that show how great you are, or even how awfully you deliver something! It also comes from stories, stories from our customers, from our staff and from our leaders that demonstrate how well we can do things and show the behaviours we are looking for in action. People remember stories and then repeat them. So instead of showing a PowerPoint chart, tell a story – it has so much more impact.
The ‘right brain’ that controls your emotions, your creativity and your visual engagement with the world, must be front and centre when trying to create change:
  • Create visual spaces and materials, that follow the rules of change, leverage those Brand and customer stories and learn to create sensory experiences for your people.
  • Create a clear rationale for the change that appeals to the emotional and the rationale side of our brains.
  • Harness leadership passion and ownership of the change, with a call to action.
Do something different! Be sure to engage your people first and put your processes, systems and practices second…and your change will be successful.

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