Live events are just the beginning of the engagement journey
Live events with the chance to get face-to-face with a company’s leader are the most powerful tool in employee engagement, according to a survey of 400 professionals.
Around 80 per cent use them in planning and communication and to align managers behind the company vision and direction, according to the Melcrum survey for Top Banana, which works with leaders to deliver events at times of change, challenge and growth.
MD and co-founder Nick Terry says: “There is nothing more powerful than a live event where managers get personal with their leader as a fundamental part of an experience. It kick-starts the process. But any CEO who thinks ‘that’s it for another year’ is missing the point.”
That, however, is a common failing among leaders, especially those who presume employees know the business strategy and their role in it just because they sent out an email with links to the company intranet.
For such leaders, as George Bernard Shaw wrote: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Leaders who really want to be heard and get their entire organisation lined up in the same direction, engaged to deliver, need to plot their audience’s mindset, show empathy and deal with issues before they set out their vision.
Terry says: “If someone has a stone in their shoe, how can you expect them to walk with you until they’ve taken it out?”
That may require leaders to acknowledge their leadership communication weaknesses. Such insight takes bravery, but the best leaders always listen well, are self-aware and show high levels of emotional intelligence.
As with stuttering King George VI facing the ultimate test of telling his country he was leading them into war, this makes them more open to seeking trusted advisers who will tell them it straight – and then to investing time in projecting themselves the best they can.
Terry uses the image from The King’s Speech regularly to emphasise that authenticity is key to creating the empathy that sparks true breakthroughs.
A well-planned event will create a total experience that reinforces the leader’s vision – with the appropriate use of technology and break-out groups to foster the right ambience and two-way dialogue.
For it is when employees believe and trust their leaders and see they are committed to the organisation and to them, as the CIPD says, that deep-seated buy-in and two-way engagement are generated and proven. The rewards for achieving that nirvana are huge – and the penalties of failure punitive.
Terry talks of a global pharmaceutical business that needed to get managers from a country that was losing millions to believe that supply and quality issues would be fixed before they could buy into a new vision.
Equally, a drinks brand saw a 10 per cent increase in sales, or $56m (£36m) growth, in the year after a live event the leader instigated to immerse his top team in a new global brand strategy.
Terry concludes: The event was just the start of the engagement journey. The leader achieved the ultimate success because he used the event to inspire his managers to be torch bearers with the same energy, passion and belief as him in selling the vision on.