Leadership insight: Debate is critical to employee engagement

Posted by Cranfield School of Management on 10-Dec-2015 15:22:33

During the recession, employees were commonly subjected to pay cuts, career freezes and additional responsibilities. As a result, many became disconnected with their business, which is why it’s more important than ever for organisations to focus on re-engaging staff and captivating existing talent.

The implications 

Organisations can either reach consistent policies by developing and cascading vision and values down the corporate ladder, or by recognising the central value of competing and mutual interests and listening to diverse points of view. 

The former option takes the form of things like bi-annual surveys and initiatives and often feels like an add on — it’s a type of engagement that’s done to people, but doesn’t involve them throughout the whole process. 

On the other hand, the second approach engages with, debates and reconciles differences — it’s more effective as it asks employees what they think engagement is and takes a more collaborative method. 

A two-way process 

Organisations with high levels of employee engagement usually start off with some form of organisational framing that’s integral to their business strategy and forms part of how they want to work. 

This involves talking to employees about what engagement means for them, building it from the bottom-upwards instead of devising ideas at executive level then filtering them down and through the organisation. 

A company which is striving towards an engaged culture needs leaders who are absolutely prepared to listen, who value differences, and are able to value challenge, dissent and debate. 

This type of leader isn’t always easy to develop and acquire, but without them, employee engagement can too easily become something people talk about but cannot do.

How we can help

Within Cranfield School of Management we believe that leadership is a skill that needs to be honed, developed and nurtured. The Centre for General Management Development (CGMD) offers general management programmes that help managers at key career stages develop into leaders who influence the strategic course of their organisations. The management development courses, which cover the subject of knowledge sharing, are:

Click here for more information or download a programme brochure. 

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