The Five People Your Business Really Needs to Make Engagement Stick

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Editor’s note: Today we have the pleasure of presenting a new Zyncro Blog author: Chris Preston, a navigator of the corporate culture, spends most of his time working with interesting companies that create a wealth of stories, anecdotes and cautionary tales. Chris describes himself as a natural Storyteller, but a terrible Strategist – so the blogs should be good, but probably late. Welcome Chris! :)

Over the last two years Jane Sparrow and I researched content for a recently released book, The Culture Builders. In doing so, we uncovered the five people you really want in your organisation if you are to make engagement, work, stick and pay dividends.

The examples we heard, from companies large and small, showed us how great engagers (be they leaders or first-line managers) are adept at inhabiting five roles as they look to move the workforce from caring about the business, to being passionate about it – a difference we term ‘savers and investors’. An organisation full of investors (and they do exist) can achieve amazing things and delight and move their customers way beyond the ‘OK’ mark.

We use the phrase Investor to describe the levels of commitment, involvement and ownership that people feel and demonstrate when they genuinely feel part of an organisation. The five roles get them there – steering, challenging, talking, doing and inspiring.

So, I guess the question you’re asking is, ‘who are they… and how do I get them?’… Meet the Culture Builders:

  • The Prophet: the one with the vision for the future, forward looking, inspirationally overflowing. This role is all about what’s over the horizon, and we should all be aiming to get there (the past’s a forgotten place).
  • The Storyteller: bringing the journey to life, uses rich language to localise the vision and help people bridge the gap between where we are and where we’re going.
  • The Strategist: keeping it all on track, aligning actions and people with the goal, ensuring ‘it’s for the long term’. Driving consistency of behaviour and longevity of an initiative to ensure a successful outcome.
  • The Coach: Knowing what makes the heart ‘beat’ of the people in their team, and using that knowledge to engage them fully in the activity, to use the engagement process to grow and challenge them, constantly thinking how.

These first four are what we term the ‘type’ roles, and describe the ways in which we go about engaging the wider organisation. We know from research that there is a preference for the first one, closely followed by the Storyteller. It’s the Strategist that is the least prevalent in managers and leaders – opening up a whole host of issues around longevity of actions and cost for projects (I’ll talk more about this in future blogs).

The final role is what we term the ‘style’ role, and focuses more on the personal approaches that a leader of people will rely upon:

  • The Pilot: The person with their hand on the tiller, the calm, firm voice in times of change – a style that colours how the person delivers the four ‘type’ roles and steers teams to act and develop in very different ways (we break this role down into three areas: Authoritative, Inclusive and Enabling).

I firmly believe that these five roles are made, not born in people, and can be attained by focus, effort and determination. Like many areas of leadership theory, the first step is always going to be recognition of what the situation requires and understanding how you personally get there.

Interestingly, the really high performing individuals that we met did not possess all five in high levels. Rather they had a balance in the four type roles (so either Prophet or Storyteller high, and either Strategist or Coach high). In terms of the Pilot, those that are highly inclusive are seen to do the best in engagement terms.

So that’s a quick jaunt through the book’s main thinking. In future blogs I hope to move beyond it, and look more widely at how areas such as trust, dialogue and the corporate environment all build or detract Investors in our organisations. Let me know your thoughts, and what you’d like me to expand on – culture’s a whole world in itself!