Rules of engagement

I had a great time recently debating with my team what engagement means at RedBalloon.

Here are some points that we have been discussing, which form the basis of our rules of engagement.

  • Engagement is a daily exercise that must be owned by every single person in the organisation… every day. I completely agree. We don’t have an engagement manager – every leader and colleague is accountable for engagement – and I have often been quoted as saying, engagement is a journey not an activity.
  • Culture is like the tide, and people like boats on the water – when the tide rises so does engagement. I have learned that not only is happiness infectious – so is engagement. People like being productive and hanging out with other people who are productive too.
  • Engagement requires all of the following: clarity, communication, trust, priorities, direction, action, alignment, progression and relationships. I would add passion, commitment and persistence.
  • The engaged stay for what they give. The disengaged stay for what they get. Remember by definition the disengaged are people who are being paid – and they “hate” their employer.
  • Be aware that if a company undertakes an engagement survey but does nothing to follow up to improve the engagement culture this will actually result in further disengagement. Being real with people, authentic and transparent is essential for an engaged team – if you cannot tackle all the outcomes of the survey – let people know what you are going to do and by when (and absolutely make sure that you do it – cynicism is very destructive).
  • “Know your people, know your manager!” And I would add to that – we are all just people and business is a people game – so I hope you like them.

All the ideas in the world do not make success – it is the execution of the plan that delivers the outcome.

Naomi Simson is considered one of Australia’s ‘Best Bosses’. She is an employee engagement advocate and practices what she preaches in her own business. RedBalloon has been named as one of only six Hewitt Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand for 2009 and awarded an engagement scorecard of over 90% two years in a row – the average in Australian businesses is 55%. RedBalloon has also been nominated by BRW as being in the top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia behind the likes of Google. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker inspiring people on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and is a published author – and has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded –


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