Guest Post by: Carole Grimwood
Let me start with an immediate reassurance that this isn’t a political blog. I don’t want to disengage readers straight away! I do however want to talk about last month’s Labour leadership election. Whatever my views about the outcome I have found the way the Corbyn campaign engaged a previously disaffected group of people has been both interesting and instructive and I think there are is some interesting learning here for OD and HR colleagues. I wonder whether others agree?
Values – The campaign awakened the interest of a group of people who previously felt disenfranchised because they considered their situation was not being addressed and perhaps most importantly their values were not previously represented in the political system.
Voice – It underscores the importance that people place on being listened to; having a voice, and being ‘done with’ rather that done to’. The notion of crowd sourcing questions for Prime Minister’s Questions is an extension of this.
Authenticity – Corbyn’s victory also exemplifies the importance that people are placing on what they perceive to be openness, integrity, straight talking and the absence of spin. This is perhaps about more authentic and empathetic leadership. We’re reading a good deal about at the moment about a shift away from heroic leadership in favour of more collaborative models. I particularly like what ‘The 21st Century Public Servant’ the recently published by the University of Birmingham has to say about this https://goo.gl/gcjxjU
Social Media – By August this year The Guardian was reporting a significantly higher use of all the key social media platforms by the Corbyn campaign. The #jezwecan was being shared once every 25 seconds at that point. Remember that this was also acknowledged to be a significant factor in Obama’s victory. Its remarkable though that when we talk to clients about using social media as part of their internal communications strategy for engagement and to support transformation programmes, there is still, more often than not, a notable reluctance. Is this because decisions are being made by people who are not using social media themselves and who lack confidence in it and don’t understand of its potential.
It seems to me that there is much transferable learning here for the world of employee engagement particularly in terms of switching on the disaffected:
- Understanding why people are not engaged at the fundamental level of their personal values;
- Listening to people and encouraging them to have a voice
- Enabling people to actively participate;
- Providing a different kind of leadership that is seen as authentic and worthy of trust
- Communicating with them (not to them) using the media that that they use which means exploiting social media.
With these points in mind there is an outstanding issue to be considered and addressed. In engaging the disaffected – has this leadership election process created a whole new group of disaffected people? And if so can they be re-engaged? In the employee engagement arena it has to be about raising the total level of engagement and this will inevitable require flexibility of approach.
I’m interested to know whether you see the same or different lessons?