Making Engagement Normal




“How do I get my boss/manager/elected member to get this engagement thing?” I would love to get paid for every time I have heard this! There can be a world of difference between an engagement practitioner’s passion for engagement and an organisation’s willingness (and capability) to do anything with that passion. Indeed, some engagement practitioners are so passionate about their work that they want their organisation to run well before it can walk. The more charismatic engagement practitioners score some quick wins, only to find the multi-headed hydra of change resistance rises from the depth of the organisational culture to tear down those hard-fought-for wins. Based on our experience working with organisations to take the steps needed to ‘embed’ engagement there are few key learnings that may be worth considering. The first is that something that may seem self-evident but it is amazing how often people forget that making engagement normal within organisations is about engaging people within the organisation. I starts with turning all of those skills and passions for engaging communities and stakeholders outside the organisation and bringing them into the organisation.

BASELINE ENGAGEMENT‘We engage because we are told to’

  • Baseline engagement is characterised by applying the minimum level of engagement to meet compliance requirements (e.g. accreditation, statutory or regulatory requirements).

  • At its most basic level, achieving compliance is a greater focus than the quality of engagement.

RESPONSIVE ENGAGEMENT‘We engage because we have to’

  • Responsive engagement is characterised by a response to something that has already happened.

  • The organisation waits until they need to engage and responds primarily to mitigate risks and/or defend a decision.

PROACTIVE ENGAGEMENT – 'We engage because we want to'

  • Pro-active engagement is undertaken early in any project or discussion cycle because the value and benefit of engagement are known and can be realised.

LEADING ENGAGEMENT‘We engage because it is how we do business’

  • Leading engagement is about an organisation that is leading their sector in engagement practice.

  • Their focus is not just on getting the job done but in continually improving how engagement occurs, not just for their business but for the whole sector.

​As a way to support you to make engagement normal in your neck of the woods, this dial can be downloaded here.