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Post-covid employee engagement

Fiona Passantino, Early November, 2022

Fattening the pipeline

While some employees are happy doing the same thing every day for many years, most want to see a path forward, a plan to grow and evolve, and move up within the organization. It’s always possible to job-design, create new responsibilities and projects within an existing role, even in smaller organizations. Leaders need to listen to where the person wants to go and actively provide the tools, training and sandbox (a safe area in which to play and fail) to get them there. Regular pay raises and new titles don’t hurt either.

Generally, 2-3 years is long enough in a role. And just because there is no job that’s interesting for them to move to at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t be there later. Or a lateral opportunity opens up that can be generously job-shifted.

Speakers’ Pools

Speakers’ Pools are a great way to jump-start this process. We have all been to hundreds of Town Halls, quarterly presentations or even special company days where the history or legacy is celebrated with a fun offsite, a big party or new product roll-out with speeches by leadership. Generally, this is the time for the CEO to address her people, talk about the numbers, congratulate us on our hard work.

But all this top-down talking-to gets weary. It sends the signal that only the powerful have a voice, and that they are the only ones who can read numbers off a PowerPoint in just that special way. Much more powerful is handing the mic to a front-liner or even a new joiner. Like our favorite shows – the Oscars, Eurovision – the most engaging Masters of Ceremony are always young, cheeky jokers who have a gift for poking holes in pomp and pulling the hierarchy down a notch.

The Young MCs open the show, introduce the guests, bring the topics that matter. They have anecdotes to share, stories to tell. A great combination is the old hand plus new joiner. This powerful duo can weave educational material into their schtick – explaining company acronyms, poke fun at certain company rituals or tell a bit of important history – which will guaranteed inform and educate all the other joiners in the audience at the same time (and even a few old hands who never learned them and are by now too embarrassed to ask).

The Young MCs don’t fall from the sky. They are carefully scouted, recruited from team roundtables, coached, stroked, rehearsed, fed and flattered, then join the Pool. A Speaker’s Pool is a small group of great jokers, speakers, natural comedians who can engage a crowd and make the CEOs shine a in a public setting.

And that’s the point: optics. Getting a mild roasting from a new joiner makes the senior manager look magnanimous. The organization looks flat and cutting-edge even if it’s hierarchical and traditional at heart.

Speakers’ Pools are a triple win. Engagement goes up across the board; it feels like a cool place to work. The CEOs are happy; one less thing to do.

And the MCs? Engaged for life.