Engagement Manager as a Representative link role in team circles
For a fully remote company, engagement plays a pivotal role to help workforce should they land into a feeling of isolation, unknowingly introduce silo-ed functions and also loose track of time. Its easy for people to loose their voices and opinions for a completely remote company unless the organizational operating system allows for remote and local engagement activities.
Diversity and complexity go hand in hand. With so many personalities out there, remote work can sometimes feel really limited and for any system (team or groups of teams) to be an emergent, high performing self organized system, operating system has to be enabled to support cohesiveness and connected-ness. Closed loop feedback system needs to be a part of the operational fabric.
For co-located companies water coolers, break rooms and such can help with information sharing, and forming osmotic feedback loops, while ensuring systemic connected-ness. Many companies have tried to find remote and virtual replacements for such such as chat rooms to enable connections, however, they can only help so much.
Organizations which realize that they are evolutionary in nature (for changes and non-linearity around us), also realize that each workforce member is a sensor and that people are diverse with differing perspectives, talents, backgrounds, roles and fields of expertise. Which in turn means, there is a considerable scope of collective innovative potential that which when tapped can create valuable solutions. Organizational operating system needs to allow capturing the flow of data from each workforce member followed by data synthesis to upgrade or generate new meaning for local circles (functions and sub-functions). Enabling such a route to process everybody’s ideas and perspectives also reduces workforce anxiety, particularly for remote teams.
Data could lead to updation of workflows, expectations from peers and even structure of the organization. Such an operating system sometimes makes the formally defined structures go obsolete which are modified in response to data provided by each workforce member as they go about their daily work. In a way, the organization evolves by collective efforts of the entire workforce who responsibly respond to changes around with unbiased needs.
To enable this level of embedded-ness of each member in the organization, I realized, having tools and techniques to collect the voices of the workforce helps but is not a complete or a scalable solution.
Organizations who are in the business of managed staffing, surely must have felt the need for such connection between the outsourced team and the fabric of the organization where the workforce members are in payrolls. The team I worked with, faced and reported considerable disconnect from the system. “We do not feel a part of the system anymore”.
We introduced a new role to catalyze this gluing as a solution.
The tour of duty for terms by the team as “Engagement Manager” (hereafter referred as EM). It was kept open and left to organically evolve with managers and teams shared experiences. Leading engagement, I started this role for projects landing in “managed staffing” as a value chain ; defining the initial domain of influence for the EM. Few teething questions as resistance to change, from the leadership were “Why do we need this if we have project retrospectives and Reporting Managers?”. Needless to say, a very capillarized thought for workforce is connected to a wider meaning and purpose of the organization than just a temporary project on the timeline.
Eventually over time, the tour of duty evolved with the following set of account abilities. The expansion came as a result of shared, understood and recorded expectations from the people forming the system. This role is still evolving; with some accountabilities also removed with inculcated practices.
Timely checkins with teams to monitor team health and recording of challenges.
Routing challenges to relevant roles (Engineering Managers, Success Managers, Project Managers).
Monitoring and pushing managerial peers for timely progress on challenges.
Working with Success Managers to ensure any new person who joins the project team is onboarded and efficiently engaged.
Getting in touch individually with team members in crisis.
Calling a wider team retrospective with peer managers to establish engagement with managerial leadership at a collaboratively defined cadence.
Developing a reusable actionable framework for future engagement managers
Quantifying team health scores (with time) to demonstrate team satisfaction and team performance health trends per team
Project financial management and account continuity was kept away from this role added to the role of customer success manager. Some engagement meetings can be fun as well with online games and other activities as well.