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We complain that many of our employees do just enough at work. In fact, the statistic from the Gallup is that 52 percent of employees are disengaged — they do just enough not to get fired. What level of success can an organization have with an employees committed to doing just enough? Moreover, what can management do to inspire greater thinking and greater performance in the workplace? 

Earlier in my career, I was a corporate training director. Employees were regularly sent to our training facility with a requirement to help them perform better. The challenge with this was that performance improvements can't be mandated; in today’s intellectual workplace, employees control their thinking, effort and attitude. Just offering training had limited results. What was needed was a different way of engaging them into training to affect results.

One of the most successful exercises we used with the employees who came to our live or online education course was what we called live event learning. It is an exercise that had employees imagine themselves as active players in a place, event or situation — and in that moment, encourage their ideas, thoughts and personal involvement. They become part of the situation and then from that specific view, they start to see the situation and their role in it differently. The result is that employees become aware of their ability to contribute — this activates a greater personal connection and interest in the solution. Learning and performance improves.

Here are several examples of what we used with employees in our courses:

  1. In a customer service role you are on the phone with a customer who has a problem with your product or service. The customer is starting to get upset because his problem is not solved. Be the other side of this conversation. What do you see from the customer’s view? What changes need to happen within the organization to eliminate this customer’s pain or challenge? Who else needs to be involved in this solution? Follow this through until a solution is achieved. What new awareness came from the live event learning?
  2. In a sales role you are on your way to an annual trade show where a great number of future potential customers will be there and ready to discuss business. What are you feeling and how are you preparing for this? What information does this share about the training our sales team needs? What will enhance your success? Follow this through until a plan is created. What new awareness came from the live event learning?
  3. In an operations role you are appointed as the manager of a new facility (retail, warehouse, plant). What emotions are you feeling and what are your first thoughts on how to make this a success? What needs to be in place and now with this information, what works or doesn’t work well in our daily operations? Follow this through until a plan is created. What new awareness came from the live event learning? 

Bringing employees into a virtual situation and allowing them to fully engage as participants allows them to see the event in a greater and more personal way; it activates greater thinking. Many times, when employees are focused on solving instead of imagining, they feel restricted and pressured; they are unable to find the solution or open enough to learn. With the freedom to imagine, they share what comes to mind unencumbered — learning is personal and easier. They bring their best thinking.

Performance is affected by the brain employees choose to bring to work. Show them how to access their greatest brainpower by helping them get better at imagining and placing themselves in situations to solve them, rather than just talk about them. The results are inspiring.

Photo: Can Stock