Lead through frequent, brief conversations

Author Darrell Webster Session, Authentic and Accessible Employee Engagement with Microsoft 365.


Skilled and experienced people are walking out the door of their workplaces, taking their value to a different organisation. What was it that lead them to move on? It’s likely that their engagement needs weren’t being met. No upward movement in skill, position or salary. Imbalance of work and life driven by increasing expectations to do more. Not feeling listened to, or like their contributions are recognised. Leadership is barely visible, inaccessible. Whatever the reason, employee engagement is crucial to maintaining productivity and retaining valuable people. It’s not a one-time or once-a-quarter activity. It’s an on-going concern.

Leaders lead. Leading means being accessible. Listening, building and broadcasting vision, but including their people in the building. One of their top challenges is making the time to be available and live up to that ‘open-door’ policy. Leaders need to scale their reach and make it a dialogue. Conversation is two-way and they’re missing the point if their strategy is broadcast-only. What is a blog/news post if there’s no responses to questions? What is a video recording of a presentation if there’s no engagement from the speaker in the comments? When leaders publicly engage in the on-going discussion, they earn respect and learn much about the health of their organisation.

More leaders are turning towards using raw, authentic mediums to start the conversation and keep the thread running. Two of these strategies can be quick and effective. They don’t have to throw your calendar out completely.

  • Live streaming a short talk. Regular. Brief. Authentic and imperfect. Leadership who maintain a rhythm of sharing via live streams can’t help but be authentic. There’s not much room for scripting. Just get on with it. But don’t stop there.
  • Posts and comments in an enterprise social platform. Regular. Brief. Authentic, and yes, imperfect. The main point is to have the conversation in the open and keep it going. Being willing to listen and respond to replies.

How do you fit that into a busy schedule? By deliberately keeping it brief. Chatty. To the point. Post and live stream from a mobile. Take a moment or three during the day to see what the organisation is talking about. Respond, but don’t write a book in response. Keep it chatty and keep it moving.

I’m talking about this and more in the sphere of maintaining authentic and accessible employee engagement at the Digital Workplace Conference Australia in August. I don’t profess to be an expert in the field. But if your organisation is using Microsoft 365 or thinking of using it, I will get you started with 4 key principles. Address people and their needs first. I’ll show you how to put those principles to work using SharePoint, Stream, Yammer and Teams. You won’t see perfection on stage. But you will start the conversation with me and you’ll get a live and authentic response.

Photo Credits: Jessica Sysengrath and Holger Link on Unsplash