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Derek Bishop

Culture Consultancy


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Coaching engagement


What does employee engagement mean to you? Strangely, despite all that has been written about engagement, for some leaders engagement still equates to the imposition of a set of values and behaviours upon employees.

Before we move on, let’s make it clear that we are not suggesting that leaders shouldn’t draw up expected values and behaviours; quite the contrary, it is one of the prime responsibilities of the leadership team to set the values, behaviours and attitudes which will deliver the required strategy. However, it is the way in which those expectations are shared that can make the difference between engagement and resentment.

Quite simply, telling someone to act in a certain way will have little or no effect unless time is taken to help them to understand why those behaviours are required and the consequent effect on others. For example, if I go out to eat then the level of my enjoyment is affected by the attitude of those serving within the restaurant. If I’m a restaurant owner and I tell my employees to smile then they may or may not do so. If I’m a restaurant owner and I work with my employees to help them to understand the way in which their attitude can affect customer enjoyment, tips and repeat business then I have a far greater chance of success.

So if telling someone how to behave is doomed to failure, what can leaders do to boost employee engagement in the aims and values of the organisation?  The first step is simply to live the values yourself, to show by example how the values can transform working relationships. The second is to work with employees, coaching them and encouraging them to move towards the required values until they reach a stage at which they themselves take responsibility for their own engagement; either in a group situation or perhaps by using online self managed engagement tools.

This move away from instruction and towards coaching is not just confined to engagement. School leavers today have been taught to reason and to think, to take responsibility and to explore possibilities. Organisations which encourage a culture of self-reliance and self learning, in which they seek to replace instructional training with development coaching are far more likely to resonate with those entering the workforce for the first time. This is also a good first step towards an innovation culture which values empowerment and collaboration.

What does employee engagement mean to you? If your definition doesn’t include valuing employees as individuals who will benefit from coaching rather than instructing perhaps it’s time you thought again.

If you would like to explore online self-managed engagement tools or general employee engagement issues further  feel free to email Derek at [email protected] or visit

One Response

  1. Employee Engagement

    Employee engagement is a spiralling process, best approached from the bottom up.  The key to achieving happier and healthier workplaces is to connect with all your employees and give them a say in how this should happen while also empowering them to take action on their own engagement.

    Cultural change within an organisation is a difficult time for both management and employees as it is always a huge task.  What we must remember is that organisational culture is made up of teams and each team has its own culture.  Each team is made up of individual employees who can also contribute positively to the move towards a happier and healthier workplace if given the opportunity.

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Derek Bishop


Read more from Derek Bishop

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