How do you get your staff to really engage or believe in the organisation? To live the values, have a positive attitude, contribute new ideas, to go the extra mile, to be energised so that you can deliver a great customer experience?

Engaging your staff in the values, ethos, culture and direction of your organisation is one of the key challenges for leaders. How do you do it?

The MacLeod Review (2009) summarised four ‘enablers’ that should be fundamental to any employee engagement strategy:

  • Leadership that gives a ‘strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going’.
  • Line managers who motivate, empower and support their employees.
  • Employee voice throughout the organisation, to challenge or reinforce the status quo and involve employees in decision making.
  • ‘Organisational integrity’: stated values are embedded into organisational culture; what we say is what we do.

But how do you implement these enablers?

How do leaders provide a strong narrative? Team briefings and emails are key channels for communication- but are they enough? And are they two way? Do they create a real engaging dialogue?

How do managers empower? How do you give a voice to your staff?

How about though making art? Through making pictures.

People often leave art to artists, or the ‘visuals’ in a work context to graphic designers or graphic facilitators- but we can all create. How empowering is it to give your team the opportunity to come together to discuss challenges, share ideas,  and create images that encapsulate those ideas?

In recently worked with a Housing Association and did just this. Staff developed new customer culture principles and then went on to illustrate them. These now hang on the walls of their offices. Can you imagine the ownership that staff group now have their core business values?

Why is this so effective? Engaging in the creative-artistic process can:’free people up’; open up thinking; help people express themselves more easily; offer a level playing field for discussion; and connect with a sense of creativity they may have lost in the process of ‘growing up’. It also makes people feel empowered and valued. Their voice is being heard in a unique and bold way.

I understand that some of this may sound daunting, but I have developed ways of making art-making accessible to everyone- however ‘un-creative’ or ‘non-artistic’ people may feel.  Some of the tools I have developed include:

i) Collaborative painting- as the name suggests its where a group create a piece of art together

ii) Team Portraits- Yes, people paint each other!

When might you use this?

i) Change Management – engaging through art can form part of your change management process. Create images of the present, the future, the drivers for change. In creating you may also discover some answers to help you move forward.

ii) New teams- as organisations restructure new teams are formed. Although to make them a team as opposed to a group of people who have been flung together takes effort.  This process can be very levelling- putting everyone on the same level.

iii) Customer Engagement- how do your customers, service users, clients, tenants see you? What is their experience of your service? Using art as an engagement tool can be more attractive and powerful than traditional focus groups.

iv) Away Days- away days for management teams and staff can often by either ‘too worky’ or the other end of the spectrum ‘too social’. Why not combine fun and work though creating art works that are loosely based around work themes?

This video of a new Director shows the impact it had on her new team.

I have also used art as engagement tool in the following contexts:

    • As part of an office re-design- the staff create their own art work for their new environment
    • With Foster carers and the children they look after
    • As an empowerment tool with women who have suffered domestic abuse
    • A vehicle for expression for people with learning disabilities- describing their version of ‘Healthy communities’

Click here to see how I tried to paint my own company

Please contact me today to see how we might work together to create a more engaged enthusiastic and energised team.