Three Ways to Create a Culture of Engagement

Savvy business owners know that employee engagement has to start at the beginning of an entrepreneurial effort. It has to be a part of the culture created, communicated through the hiring process and cultivated in how employees are developed and how their engagement is encouraged.

Reesheda and Darrel Washington know this, which is why last week, after their brand new business closed its doors for the evening, L!VE Café and Creative Space was open for team development. I was privileged to facilitate the training and witness firsthand their intentionality about creating, not just a coffee café, but a transformational and inspirational space for “courageous, authentic and abundant L!VING” for their customers, the larger community and most importantly, their crew.

The L!VE crew was as engaged and open as I expected, so much so that the training spilled over the allotted time. Toward the end, one team member asked an unexpected question of the owners …”Why are you doing this [training]?

I found the question poignant because it implied so many more questions…
Why do you care so much about your employees?
Why is it important to know the individual and collective strengths of your team?
Why is the development of your staff so important?
Why were you working so hard to create a team?
Why are you submitting yourselves to training you could conduct?

Why…?

The question also implied the behavior was abnormal, which unfortunately, it is. Many companies claim customer service is a top priority. Many claim to care about their employees. Many claim to want more engaged employees but they don’t prove their claims with actual action.

The way Reesheda and Darrel answered these questions reflect so much about their desire to live their purpose using their God-given talents. It also indicated their understanding of how their employees’ engagement impacts their bottom line. Here’s what I heard:

Get to know and care about your people.
People know when you care about them. We have a sense from the oldest part of our brains about who is safe and who is not, who has our best interests at heart and who is looking out for himself/herself only. And we are less likely to be enthusiastic about the latter! So find something that you can celebrate and appreciate about each member of your team.

People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~ Either Teddy Roosevelt or John Maxwell!

Take care of the people and the people will take care of the mission.
This is one of those lessons I was first exposed to at my very first Air Force assignment. It made sense to me then because I wasn’t the one doing most of the work!

I saw the Washingtons demonstrate their understanding that, as the leaders, taking care of their people entails much more than providing the resources needed to get the job done in a relatively safe physical environment. They are actively providing their team opportunities to grow, providing recognition for a job well done, providing honest feedback when needed, and providing an opportunity to do something else when necessary! In other words, they are actively and deliberately developing their team.

Demonstrate your culture.
Teams tend to model behavior based on behavioral cues from the leader. And there is nothing like taking the time to participate in a training session to demonstrate the importance of individual and collective development to your team. In this instance, the fact that the Washingtons submitted themselves to training they could have conducted themselves, also powerfully demonstrated their dedication to their own continuous growth and improvement.

If you’re a leader who is not intentionally creating an environment that encourages your employees to care about the company, I have a question for you …why?

Renita Alexander, Leadership Unlocked

Knowledge

Each of us has different gifts and talents…things that we’re naturally good at that can be used to serve our purpose. To attract those who might offer a perspective that could be beneficial to our growth and achievement of our purpose, we have to be open to the notion that there some things we do not know, some tasks we’re not good at and some people with legitimate and different perspectives.

Because…“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Inhale Difference, Exhale Conformity…
Inhale Diversity, Exhale Uniformity…
Inhale Disagreement, Exhale Homogeneity…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

Self-Assured

A really self-assured person once told me something I knew was wrong but he said it with such confidence, I doubted my own knowing. I verified the truth, yet he remained unconvinced. Which led me to the question……is it wrong to let the self-assured be wrong?

Asking for a friend…

Inhale Confidence, Exhale Cockiness…
Inhale Assurance, Exhale Arrogance…
Inhale Knowing, Exhale Knowing-It-All…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe
#Energy

Bonds

We sometimes struggle trying to force family connections not of our creation fit some expectation of what we think they should be, ignoring the reality of what they are. And the reality is, the bonds that bind us together are often blood but could be shared backgrounds or might be based on similar interests and experience.

If your tribe is your family, that’s great. But if your crew is created with those who have chosen to co-journey with you, that is grace.

Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest, it’s about who walked in to your life, said “I’m here for you,” and PROVED it.” Author Unknown

Inhale Bonds, Exhale Shoulds…
Inhale Bonds, Exhale Have-tos…
Inhale Bonds, Exhale Musts…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

Inevitable Change

Our lives are flowing in Divine order in accordance with the choices and decisions we’ve made and are making. Yet we often hold on to what is familiar even though what is familiar might be suffocating what needs to grow and develop in us.

We can’t open to what is if we are grasping at what was. Change is inevitable. We either voluntarily embrace it or we’re forced to accept it.

Whoever is able to cast off his skin shall not die.” Mark Nepo

Inhale Change, Exhale Death…
Inhale Transformation, Exhale Suffocation…
Inhale Renewal, Exhale Stagnation…
Just Breathe

#JustBreathe

Power Flow

There is just something about the ocean that always invites me to stillness and reverence. Whether flying over, sailing on, or lying next to a large body of water, I am reminded of how a powerful Creator keeps the heavens and earth working and in order. And when I’m aligned to His flow, my life is in order.

“Oh Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made
I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout
The universe displayed…
“How Great Thou Art” hymn based on a poem by Carl Boberg

Inhale Connection, Exhale Division…
Inhale Alignment, Exhale Disjointedness…
Inhale God, Exhale Disorder…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
#Power

Power Source

Authentic power comes from the Source of all power and authority. We are powerful when we are connected to God, plugged into His plan and aligned with His purpose for our lives.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV

Inhale Power, Exhale Disconnection…
Inhale Strength, Exhale Separation…
Inhale Protection, Exhale Exposure…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
#Power

Development

Each of us has something we are uniquely purposed to do. All of our innate talents, to include our personality can be honed to serve that purpose.

But before our gifts or our talents become strengths we have to invest in them. The most successful people start with raw talent and multiply that talent by investing time to add the skills, knowledge, practice and experience to turn talent into strengths that can help us achieve our purpose.

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” ~ Ephesians 4: 11-13, The Message

Inhale Evolution, Exhale Inhibition…
Inhale Investment, Exhale Limitations…
Inhale Expression, Exhale Repression…
Just Breathe…

#JustBreathe
#Strengths

Discipline

Do or do not, there is no try.” ~ Yoda, Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Back

Most people only decide to make a lifestyle change when some aspect of their life becomes too painful. Once the pain subsides, they often revert to the original behavior, only to experience the pain again, sometimes even more severely than before.

Making a change that sticks requires the belief that you can do it, the commitment to your choice and the daily discipline to do what you’ve committed to.

The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good.” ~ Proverbs 10:17 The Message

Inhale Resolve, Exhale Regret…
Inhale Tenacity, Exhale Regret…
Inhale Resilience, Exhale Regret…
Just Breathe…

#ReflectionsWithRenita

Discovery

There are all kinds of assessments out there to help you understand more about yourself, whether it’s to understand how you make decisions, how you prefer to receive information, or how you can lead effectively. In fact, I’m convinced that knowledge leading to greater self awareness is the key to effective leadership, to include leading yourself.

Of course, that’s only true if the knowledge informs your behavior. For example, knowing you have the analytical ability to ferret out all the factors affecting a decision is great however, if your analytical strength prevents you from making a decision, then it could be considered a liability.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” ~ Romans 12: 6-8

Inhale Awareness, Exhale Unconsciousness…
Inhale Recognition, Exhale Rejection…
Inhale Insight, Exhale Ignorance…
Just Breathe…

#Awareness
#JustBreathe