Friday 23 September 2011

OD, Engagement and the Guru Group


   I’m on David McLeod’s Engagement Taskforce ‘guru group’ but will be missing their meeting today.

However, I have been thinking further about engagement, largely as a result of my attendance at the CIPD’s OD conference the last two days.

Most of my thinking and experience around engagement comes from an HR perspective (thinking for a minute as HR as an ‘activity’, with engagement as an element of human capital as an example of ‘outcome’ – which I know is the opposite of what I suggested we should be doing in my last post).

So we improve our HR processes, and encourage our leaders to treat their people better.  But importantly, we also need to ensure each relationship between each person and their manager (and others) is improved.

Interestingly, this came up during day 2 of the conference too (perhaps because by then we’d moved on from organisation development to organisation effectiveness, which as Linda Holbeche had noted, involves an integration of OD with HR).

So for example, Rebecca Marks from Internal Communication and Employee Engagement at DHL gave us a nice example of using animal analogies to help people understand their personalities / preferences, so if you’re a placid dove managing a bull, you know there might be issues.  Or what about if you’re managing a mischievous chimp?

We’re talking about warehouse operators here, so things need to be kept simple and fun – so I think it’s quite a nice example and has apparently helped people picture what they’re really like.


But of course we can also use organisational and social levers to impact engagement too.  This means OD (rather than HR, or organisation effectiveness) practitioners can do two things:

  • Connect people together, because we know how important this bonding effect can be
  • Create organisation structures and roles which provide autonomy and responsibility (this had come up too on the first day when the speaker from Nationwide had suggested that they’d done too much dumbing down).


I think if all organisations took actions in all three of these areas the engagement taskforce would have a lot less to do.



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