When we gather people in a room, our first instinct is often: what information should we push out?
When our task is to gather feedback from people, our first instinct is to ask: what information do we need to hear?
In both of these common organizational rituals, the focus is on the content.
But before the content…comes outcome.
What do we really need from our participants? And, why?
If all we need is compliance, a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response is fine.
If all we need is information, we can send a list of questions, or a survey.
But when we want to bring people together around an organizational change, some new process, or a common goal, we often need more.
We need engagement.
The difference between asking for information and asking for engagement is involving employees in co-creating the data-gathering experience. It involves pulling on their intrinsic motivation and connecting your ask to something they care about.
This requires us to focus more on the people we are surveying and not just the answers they will provide.
People love and appreciate feeling heard and being involved, especially when the change affects them. Change is personal. We can treat it that way by taking a personalized approach to data-gathering.
Give employees skin in the game by asking for their expertise, their stories, their insights.
Give employees a role by asking them to listen for what other employees are saying in the room so that themes can be built upon and solidified.
Show them the importance of their opinion and experience by elevating their status and highlighting their unique role.
Bring them in as co-creators of the experience
Bringing people together around a change effort involves more than sharing information and gathering it. It takes time to build and set the context that fuels ongoing engagement in a change effort.
Success is not necessarily measured in the immediate clarity of their answers fitting nicely in a box, but in their ongoing commitment to join you in the change you seek.