Wasted Talent and Lost Opportunity

23 September 2016

Wasted Talent and Lost Opportunity – The Simple Acts of Employee Engagement

One of the great aspects of my role is the opportunity to meet potential new Change2020 consultants. Each one brings their own unique story with a wonderful mix of skills; it is always inspiring to meet these people and learn about their career, values, and motivations. Why people choose to work in change management often comes down to real passion for helping organisations do the right thing, natural curiosity and, often, the desire to reignite their creative spark and do something outside of a traditional employment situation. Creativity is an important component to a change professional’s skillset and is often expressed as the ability to adapt technical expertise into the language of an organisational culture in order to break down barriers and deliver outcomes. However, creativity and curiosity are also important skills to embed into an organisation’s culture and leadership; and this is often a missed opportunity.

So last week I was struck by a comment from a colleague that joining our team had been like “having her brain switched back on”. Why, I wondered? Because suggestions for improvement and using initiative were welcome and appreciated, and that she was therefore motivated to continually think of new ideas and suggestions without fear of being knocked back without due consideration. Referencing that in a past role her suggestions for improvement had been continuously knocked back, she had eventually shut down, got on with the prescriptive requirements for the job and ultimately resigned. The contrast was clear – and troubling. In a position to see how much value this person contributes to our business, here was a moment of clarity illuminating some of the hidden and arguably more substantial costs to an organisation when they lose good employees. Perhaps this anecdote is one that you too have heard, possibly many times. Or does this scenario apply to you too?

Employee Engagement and an Organisation’s Need for New Perspectives

Albert Einstein once said that “you cannot solve the problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Organisations need new perspective and thinking to help solve problems and to find incremental opportunities for change that help to improve a business. This is creativity driven through skill sets and active employee engagement, and is key to unlocking innovation in an environment of ongoing change and ambiguity. Discussions like the one outlined above remind me that there is so much wasted opportunity for making time to listen to suggestions and ideas from committed, motivated people. Emotional engagement and personal mastery really are the cornerstone of retaining talent, money is only ever part of the equation.

Whilst this is bit of a personal rant, I thought it was timely to share because personal development is a wonderful thing and to see eyes being opened, brains being switched back on and real problem solving take place is a truly satisfying outcome. It’s simple acts that help to stimulate this, emotional connection and a sense of personal self-worth at the end of the day. Innovation comes through people and needs to be encouraged through active listening, broad-ranging engagement and attentive leadership. Einstein also said that “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. What a great aspiration for our future workforce.

Kerryn Fewster

Kerryn is the Founder and Director of Change 2020. She has consulted extensively in the area of Transition and Transformation. She places emphasis on strategy development and solution implementation to minimise people and operational impacts associated with major change.

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