Employee Engagement & Bridge Building

Minneapolis Bridge

How do you engage employees?  You build a bridge between leadership and “on the ground” employees.  You offer staff opportunities to be heard by leadership who actively listen and appreciate their ideas.

Our university has implemented “skip level” meetings over the past year.  These opportunities don’t cost anything except time and they pay off in spades!

I recently met with our Chief Academic Officer, our top leader in our Minneapolis office, to discuss my idea for advancing our university’s mission of positive social change through a live virtual networking event involving our students and alumni.  I promised to take only 15 minutes of his very busy schedule – and that’s all it took.  He appreciated my input and called out the initiative in a university-wide meeting the following week.  I’m grateful for our team’s opportunity to advance our mission and to be recognized for it.

So I “paid it forward” with my team.  I was offered the opportunity to meet with the Vice President of Information Technology and the Executive Director overseeing the implementation of a new customer relationship management system when they visited our Minneapolis office.   I invited three of our team members to this meeting to share their ideas for tailoring the new system to our specific needs.  We had a pre-meeting to strategize.  I asked each team member to choose which point she wanted to cover.

When the meeting started, I provided an overview of our team, our mission, and the students we serve.  Then I handed it off to the team.  Our team works with these systems day in and day out.  No one could do a better job of making the case for tailoring a new system.  You should have seen their beaming smiles as our IT leaders asked them questions.  Our IT leaders even made suggestions on how we could streamline tasks immediately while the new system is being built.  We were so appreciative of their time and the opportunity to provide input.  I know our team will be buzzing about this for quite some time!

I hope to teach business classes someday and tell these great stories of how our leadership valued and implemented our suggestions.  Employees “on the ground” often have great ideas that miss the chance to cascade up the chain.  I’m very grateful to our leadership and to my team for our very productive conversations.

We are truly “walking the talk” of employee engagement!

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services and DBA Student

Lisa Cook