Celebrating the First Engage for Success MK Conference 

From food selection to invitation circulation, material preparation to speaker organisation. A flurry of preparation preceded Tuesday’s Engage for Success Conference in Milton Keynes.

But it was worth the wait.

From organisation and work engagement to engaging managers

mk conference 1

Kickstarting the 50+ strong conference, Dr Clare Kelliher from Cranfield School of Management enlightened us into their areas of research. This included changing demographics, integration and diversity with a vision to ‘change the world of work’. Offering ‘masterships’ to post-graduate students, the audience started a Twitter frenzy. Clare’s engagement models and the differences between work and organisation engagement followed. This is highlighted in her paper ‘Work and Organisation Engagement: aligning research and practice 2014′.

Wayne Clark global growth institute

We then had the storytelling legend that is Wayne Clark from the Global Growth Institute. Wayne gave his rendition of the connectivity between manager, employee, customer and investor via his comical emoji model. With fascinating case studies emphasising the need for effective simplicity even at recruitment level, Wayne’s top tips to ‘find the right people’ and ‘the ability to learn as a manager’ accentuated the power better engagement has on a company at all levels.

Why #WeMatterAtWork and leadership distinction

Celebrating their 70thyear anniversary, the Institute of Internal Communications’, Jennifer Sproul, continued the theme of why ‘#WeMatterAtWork’. Shedding light on how changing the culture, mindset and the way we work can have a profound effect on not just the organisation but the people themselves. Jennifer went on to explain that ‘more communication doesn’t mean more engagement’. A common misconception we see quite regularly across organisations today. Emphasising the need to ‘understand our people’ and ‘create a listening culture’, Jennifer’s passion for internal communications really resonated with the audience.

The first half of the morning was finished off nicely with the charismatic Onyi Anyado from Onyi Anyado Media House. Onyi accentuated his passion for helping organisations achieve better leadership through his delivery of ‘cutting edge leadership insights’. We later found out that he regularly delivered his presentation globally to leaders across all industries. Encouraging staff to be futurists and visionary leaders, Onyi told audiences to ‘train your staff to be legacy minded’. Onyi concluded that we need to empower employees to see future goals of the business to facilitate better engagement.

What it takes to recruit the right staff

After a coffee break and speaking to engagement specialists, an enthusiastic Vikki Shannon, Recruitment Consultant for Policy Expert greeted us. Her company growth story and take on recruiting the ‘right’ staff through blind interviews was fascinating. Based on two simple questions without seeing an actual CV, including ‘what have you done in your career to make you feel proud’ and ‘describe your personality in three words’, Vikki went on to explain how this removed bias from the very beginning.

Working for a company that is based on the family ethos (as Vikki said, ‘one big dysfunctional family’) Vikki explained how this mindset alone allowed staff to feel like they were contributing to a shared goal. Furthermore, employees feel positive by being part of a friendly and encouraging environment. Using Kahoot IT, Vikki entertained us when she ended her presentation with an interactive quiz. Giving everyone a chance to respond to a set of 14 questions (mostly on Milton Keynes and it’s never ending roundabouts!), we had to read the question off the projector. We then selected our answers on our mobiles with the top four scores shown on the main screen. It was a brilliant way of engaging all of us and certainly broke the mid-morning cycle.

Inspiring your people and influencing change

Managing Director of ClearVoice Comms, Silke Brittain, continued the day’s theme with her insight into inspiring people and influencing change. Engaging the audience with short sharp facts about how digital is changing every single business model, Silke highlighted the fact that ‘70% of Fortune 1000 companies in 2004 do not exist today’ as a result of technology disrupting many companies. Pointing out a striking disconnect between organisations’ digital strategy and people strategy,

Consequently, Silke emphasised the need for organisations to change the mindset of their people and embrace a digital culture to stay afloat. A real game changer, Silke then went on to emphasise that to lead change initiatives, organisations needed to identify key influencers using social influencer mapping tools as part of their people and change strategy. By adopting a bottom-up approach and getting into the minds of employees, Silke concluded that organisations will be far more successful at achieving better engagement and sustainable change.

MK Snap – our charity partner

This led us to Engage for Success MK’s chosen charity, MK Snap’s CEO, Angie Novell, to speak about their campaign to integrate people with disabilities into organisations. With less than 6% of people with a disability in paid employment in Milton Keynes alone, Angie emphasised the need to expand the social enterprise and engage staff members across all development spectrums. Giving audiences food for thought on developing teams based on skill rather than disability.

Subsequently, Mark Terry from Talk Freely gave his mathematical take on internal communication contributions to employee engagement. Shedding light on his explorative research as part of the Engage for Success Communications TAG, Mark gave a thought-provoking presentation on the importance of quantitative measurement and how the plethora of resources are confusing to internal communicators.

Freddie Guilmard from Red Thread Partnership then brought the conference to an end with how unconscious bias affects diversity. Using his heritage to accentuate his point on making judgements based on race, gender, country, Freddie showed audiences directly how our subconscious bias works. With a great analogy from an audience member who said that diversity is ‘not about being invited to the party but being invited to dance’, Freddie went onto explain how inclusive leadership can drive performance through diversity.

Engage for Success’ #OneChange

Concluding the conference was Network Rail’s Katy Downes, who had everyone contribute to Engage for Success’ #OneChange commitment towards engagement. A great exercise that the audience jumped on board with, with marker pens and selfies galore. Check out other #OneChange contributions on Engage for Success’ website by following this link.

In conclusion, the conference provided a collective viewpoint on engaging audiences and changing the way we work. From developing the skill sets of managers to enabling the employee voice, adapting digital channels to reducing the communication noise, it was an eclectic mix of insights and thought leadership from different industries.

Well done to the MK team for another successful event!

Why not get involved with the Engage for Success MK group or join our Engage for Success LinkedIn group please contact Silke Brittain.

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