Managing Change and Uncertainty – engagement

 The third in a series of six articles written by Karen Jones and Joanne Spencer features two tools to help you identify and improve levels of engagement among your staff.

The concept of ‘engaging people well’ is rapidly becoming one of the biggest competitive differentiators in business today with a staggering 78%1 of business leaders rating retention and engagement as urgent or important to the effective running of a successful business. 
At the heart of sustainable engagement with employees is one of the defining characteristics of human nature: reciprocity. People are more motivated and feel a greater sense of obligation when their leaders and managers look out for their success. Thismeans that employees therefore not only need to be engaged for an organisation to thrive; they want to be engaged as part of their job.
We spend a great deal of time with clients supporting them in considering what ‘engagement’ actually means in their organisational culture and exploring the differing engagement strategies for all employees, whether they are directly, indirectly or not impacted by the change.
We are delighted to share with you two tools which we often use to start the engagement process, which we hope you will find useful.
The first tool is based on the Japanese NikoNiko calendar2. As a manager we define the varying levels of engagement which you wish to achieve either using a colour code or numerical value system. We then talk with employees to rate their engagement against that system, having honest conversations of what needs to happen to enable movement forwards. This can focus on what they can be responsible to change, what we as a manager can take forward as well as identifying wider or more complex organisational elements which need to alter.
Below are two examples of this in action. Figure 1 is based on a typical NikoNiko calendar and Figure 2 is calibrated against the Change Curve
                                   FIGURE 1                                                                                                                       
                                                                        FIGURE 2


Bernd                     Helena                                                  Stephan
Alex                                           Marko                                                    Meike
Alex                        Meike                                                    Marko
                                Bernd                                                   Stephan


The second tool we use is the Circle of Concern/Circle of Control3. This model, designed by Stephen Covey, calls the range of everything you spend time thinking about your Circle of Concern. Similarly, everything you can actually influence is called your Circle of Control. In everyday life, the two circles may look like this:
To use this tool with a team or individuals, just flip up the two circles on a sheet of paper, the larger being the Circle of Concern, and fill it in; and then draw a smaller circle inside, which is the Circle of Control, and fill it in.
The Circle of Concern is where we capture anything which is worrying our teams, using their words, letting their frustrations, fears, issues come to the surface. With all the things that concern us, there are will be things in there (no matter how small) that we can directly influence and start to take an element of control. We now start to draw out from the team what they are able to control and start to add these to the Circle of Control.
The information which the team have now shared will start to show what they can control and what they can’t. There are many things that may concern us, but we can’t do anything about them. So why waste our energy on them? We can, however, focus our energy on the things which we can control in order to be far more productive.
Many people find this simple tool really liberating as it gives them permission to stop worrying about things they have no control over and focus positive attention on resolving and moving forwards the things they can.
You can always do something. You can always control how you respond to a change. These two simple tools enable us to really start to get behind what needs to happen within periods of change and uncertainty in organisations to truly engage the workforce to feel they are a part of the change.
Karen Jones and Joanne Spencer
Directors of Infinite You Limited
2 Japanese NikoNiko calendar3, pioneered at Toyota.Nikoniko is Japanese ideophone for smiling
3 Circle of Concern/Circle of Control or Influence, Stephen Covey


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