26 September 2023

Driving employee engagement with team problem-solving

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Brett Farmiloe* shares 10 ways to get employees excited about problem-solving.

Are you looking for proven ways to drive employee engagement? Many organizations find that collaboration is a highly effective strategy.

For instance, consider these 10 team-centred methods recommended by business leaders:

  1. Use the SCRUM Framework for Project Management
  2. Involve Action Focus Groups to Improve Employee Engagement
  3. Empower Employees to Take Ownership of Work Issues
  4. Give Employees a Voice in Problem Solving
  5. Create a Strength-Based Team Culture Using Assessment Tools
  6. Leverage Diversity and Mastermind for Problem-Solving
  7. Take a Bottom-up Approach
  8. Use OKRs to Drive Teamwork and Engagement
  9. Engage Employees in Weekly Virtual Team-Building Activities
  10. Personalize Engagement Drivers to Employee Groups

Why are these engagement ideas so powerful? Learn more from the descriptions below…

1) Use the SCRUM framework for project management

The SCRUM framework encourages team members to work together to solve problems and complete tasks.

This helps foster a sense of teamwork and engagement.

It also gives team members a say in a project’s direction and execution, so they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Plus, each phase of the project is transparent to everyone on the team, so everyone on the team remains aware, focused and motivated.

  • Omer Usanmaz, CEO of Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software

2) Involve “action focus groups” to improve employee engagement

We conducted an engagement survey with results that identified six individual areas for improvement.

Instead of using managers to do this, we asked for employee volunteers to create a response to the challenges identified in the survey.

Each Action Focus Group (AFG) included 10 members, which met 3-5 times to identify and recommend a solution for the company to implement.

Then each AFG presented its improvement plan to the senior leadership team, which in turn, provided feedback.

After each AFG adjusted its plan, we implemented the final recommendations.

With this AFG approach, employees became actively involved in solving key problems.

In addition, this process gave participants an opportunity to build connections outside their primary business areas.

  • Deborah Norris, Senior HR Manager at Amentum

3) Empower employees to take ownership of work issues

We drive employee engagement with team problem-solving by encouraging employees to identify and solve problems affecting their work.

We have found that employees are happier, more engaged and more productive when they can take ownership of issues that impact their work.

We achieve this by providing space for employees to voice their concerns about issues and encouraging teams to come together and solve problems (sometimes with incentives), instead of relying only on managers or supervisors.

  • Debee Gold, Owner & Clinical Director of Gold Counseling & Wellness

4) Give employees a voice in problem solving

Too many organizations identify problems, and then leadership dictates solutions in a vacuum.

At 104 West, we recently held an all-company meeting, where administration and staff broke out into groups, identified roadblocks to growth, proposed solutions, and then came together to share thoughts.

We are now implementing plans based on those ideas, and every person in the organization has a role in thisa role they helped determine.

This process helped us drive employee engagement at all levels, empowering people to be solution seekers and showcase their problem-solving and leadership abilities.

  • Joan Wyly, Vice President of 104 Degrees West Partners

5) Create a strength-based team culture using assessment tools

Using assessment tools like Gallup StrengthsFinder, team members can understand how to create a more strength-based approach to teamwork and problem-solving.

Additionally, regular “skip level” sessions allow for bottom-up feedback that helps build a more robust work culture.

Also, personalized recognition leads to a more positive employee experience.

Together, these practices can produce a psychologically safe environment where teams thrive.

  • Rapti Khurana, VP of Talent Engagement & Development at the National Football League

6) Leverage diversity and mastermind for problem solving

When problems need to be solved, team members tend to find a solution by relying on their individual experience and determination.

That can lead to excessive time scratching heads and spinning wheels, without making much progress.

However, when people come together to leverage the power of cognitive diversity, an equally diverse array of potential solutions becomes more readily available.

A mastermind-style problem-solving conversation brings together members of disparate teams that are traditionally siloed.

Coming together in this way to work toward a common goal can positively impact everything from engagement and retention to trust and productivity!

  • Erich Kurschat, Owner of Harmony Insights LLC

7) Take a bottom-up approach

I’m a big proponent of the bottom-up approach to team problem-solving, based on the teachings of Dr.

Kaoru Ishikawa.

We involve our front-line employees in group problem-solving, as well as our managers.

Front-line employees are given the authority to act autonomously within specific guidelines.

This approach is practical because those closest to a problem often know the most about it and are in the best position to devise solution strategies.

Empowering workers at all levels of our organization to participate in problem-solving drives employee engagement.

  • Dean Kaplan, President of The Kaplan Group

8) Use OKRs to drive teamwork and engagement

For our team at Compt, goal setting and management have been driving forces in employee engagement and group problem-solving.

We set objectives and key results (OKRs) as a company, and each department has its own OKRs that support overall company goals.

In addition, each employee’s personal goals are tied to that employee’s department goals.

We host monthly company-wide “retro” meetings to share how each team is performing in a measured and data-driven way.

Everything we do is quantified, which promotes accountability and cross-department teamwork to achieve overarching goals.

This ensures that we are all constantly moving in the same direction toward the same outcomes.

And because each individual’s actions impact the company’s success, we feel compelled to be more engaged and create a workplace that benefits us all.

  • Amy Spurling, CEO, and Founder of Compt

9) Engage employees in weekly virtual team-building activities

One way we combat engagement issues is through weekly virtual team-building activities.

Each session is planned and hosted via Zoom by a different group of employees.

This way, our workforce enjoys programming variety, while each group has a vested interest in the success of the activity they host.

For example, activities have ranged from virtual quiz nights to elaborate online escape room challenges.

These team-building activities have been a resounding success.

They’ve provided employees with memorable shared experiences and have helped build bonds between colleagues, ultimately leading to increased workplace collaboration.

  • Clare Jones, Marketing Manager at OfficeSpaceAU

10) Personalize engagement drivers to employee groups

The best employee engagement strategy is to ride the drivers.

Each organization, of course, will have different drivers.

For example, meaningful work, career growth, empowerment, belonging, recognition, leadership and fulfilling work relationships.

Choose a segment of your employee population.

Then implement a strategic theme strategy across your drivers that are personalized to the group but high-profile enough that successes will be seen and heard throughout the organization.

Ride the drivers, measure, rinse and repeat.

  • Marcus Holmes, HR Operations General Manager at City of Detroit

*Brett Farmiloe is the Founder of Terkel.io, a platform where business leaders can answer questions related to their expertise and get published in articles featuring their insights.

This article first appeared at talentculture.com.

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