This is the number one way to engage your staff

SmartCompany, December 6, 2017

The most common question I am asked as chief executive and founder of HR consulting firm wattsnext is ‘how do I increase performance in my business?’. Most business owners I speak to think their staff are great but believe they could be better.

Usually the first place HR professionals and business owners look to solve this problem is training. What training can I send them to that will make them better at their job?

The next may be reinstating the key performance indicators and having some tougher conversations about what they need to achieve. Or maybe even splurge and head offsite for a strategy session to give them more goals, plans and timelines to work towards.

All these are useful (sometimes), many are costly and often they provide no real return on investment.

But there is one very simple activity that costs nothing and I think is the most powerful action a leader can take to engage staff and ultimately increase performance across an entire business.


There is incredible power in sharing the story of the business. Why it started, how it got going, the challenges it faced, the impact it has had on customers, the difference it is making in the world and why the owner is so passionate about it. The more the leader can tell their story and in turn the story of the business, the more engaged the team members will be. I promise you!

Why not give it a go before the end of the year. In fact, the work Christmas party or end-of-year send off is the perfect time. Although I recommend it becomes a regular activity that becomes part of the DNA of the organisation, not just a once a year job.


Absolutely I agree. When I was in the recruitment business I would start the process by me meeting with the business owner or hiring manager to get the exact information (the story).

Without that info my interviews with suitable candidates would have been very shallow indeed.  It was by sharing this background with the candidates I could best gauge their interest as to whether this was the right place for them to work or not.

I used to say that I needed to recruit for:


Does this person have the skill level required OR can he/she acquire them?


Is this person suitable for this organisation.  That could be location, age etc.  as an example does this person have 20 yrs experience and we are trying to place him/her into a team of millennials?


Does this person really want to work here?Not just wants or needs any job but really wants to get this particular job.

So the only way that I could measure the wantability was by sharing the story of the organisation, where they are now and where they want to get to.

Once I had the buy-in of the candidate to that company’s goals it became obvious that there was a good match.

This formula was very successful and I used to say if I could ‘bottle’ wantability I would be a very wealthy woman!

They key here though is the cooperation of the owner or hiring manager with my processes at the start of the recruitment round.  Most saw the benefit of the exercise and in fact learnt from it themselves.

My process included the completion of a Performance Questionnaire.  This got right down to the level of performance and contribution to the company’s future that they were looking for in a candidate.  

This worked so well that many of our clients used the answers in future performance management measuring of their employees.

Aaah the good old days!  I did really enjoy bringing good people together with good organisations.”

Angie Mardon

At The Workplace

0403 343 300