For decades now, we have been told how important employee engagement is. Companies do surveys, and they do corrective actions if the surveys say employee engagement is too low, they give refreshers on how employees should engage… it goes on and on.  What I want to talk about today is LEADER engagement, more specifically, how leaders engage to ensure that there are shared visions and values set amongst the leadership and the workforce.   

My Robservation is that many companies ask their leaders to go out and OBSERVE work, and to COACH on that work and what they see. But they spend very little time ensuring that the backbone of organizations, the culture, mission, vision, and values are known and understood – by both leadership and the workforce.  

As you may remember, I am an ex-operator. So, I tend to approach things from an operator’s perspective.  Now I am NOT saying that leaders shouldn’t spend field time observing and coaching, but let’s face it, when you were watching me, I was paying attention to try not to do the things you were watching for me to do that you would potentially coach me on.  It was distractive. It wasn’t TRUE to how I perform when you aren’t standing there.  And frankly (conflict alert) I took a lot of what you said with a grain of salt since you have either never done my job, certainly never done THIS task, or it has been a LOOOONG time.  My belief that you are actually adding value to me, my crew, or the organization is really pretty low.  I tried to remember this when I got into a position of leadership. 

Organizations spend far too little time preparing leaders to perform and document effective Values-Based engagements.  Leaders can go out and watch work, and perform method -based observations ( and they should), but they also need to understand the limitations on these observations, and understand the validity of the data gathered, and how that data may be used. A leadership team may need to watch HUNDREDS of tasks before a mission, vision, values or goal mismatch is identified that is actionable by the organization.  An organization may be able to find and fix values mismatches that could lead to performance challenges in a fraction of the time. 

Values-Based Engagements are CONVERSATIONS – not OBSERVATIONS. They are intended to both collect the workforce thoughts and ideas on missions, visions, values, and goals, and to give the leaders perspective on these things, in order to identify where they match, and where they don’t. Take the organization that has life-saving rules – or some variation of that. Do the leaders really know if the workforce BELIEVES these are in place to help them be safer or do they think and believe that these ‘rules’ are only there to catch them and discipline them? 

Leaders should spend about 50% of their time in the field doing Values-Based Engagements instead of method-based observations.  So go out and have a conversation, do a Values-Based Engagement against YOUR favorite or most important value. Ask the following questions, then really LISTEN to the answers… How does (the value mission or goal) impact you and make you go home safely? 

How does your supervisor / SPT / GM (or me) show that they believe in this (value, mission or goal)? (times they talk about it or visit?)  

What is the relationship between this (value, mission or goal) and other process tools? (JSA, SOP, WSP)  

Collect the information from a few groups or individuals and share what you learn with your leadership team – then talk about what that tells you 

Please like and share this Robservation and remember, Intentional Leadership starts with YOU. 

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