Gallup reported worldwide employee engagement levels at an all-time low of 13% in 2017, making it imperative not to overlook employee engagement strategies. We are officially in the millennial era, where traditional leadership methods are no longer as successful as they once were. What used to yield results a decade ago now leads to decreased motivation and reduced profitability for companies. In this context, actively engaging everyone in the team while enthusing them becomes vital.

The game’s rules are changing, and you have a choice: either ignore it or adapt your leadership strategy. Organizations that have embraced the teal leadership paradigm continue to report above-average returns on investment, as revealed in Frederic Laloux’s groundbreaking book, “Reinventing Organizations.”

Laloux’s book categorizes organizational development into different levels, associating each level with colour and descriptive keywords. Impulsive-red represents less mature organizations, followed by conformist-amber and achiever-orange. Pluralistic-green organizations build upon the previous paradigms, while evolutionary-teal is considered the most advanced level of organizational maturity known to us. Currently, the majority of companies operate within the orange paradigm, while only a few are considered to be operating from a teal paradigm.

The Teal Way to Engaging Everyone In The Team

Companies operating from a teal paradigm view the organization as a living organism rather than a machine, as companies operating from an orange paradigm do.  They value purpose over profit and soul over role, amongst other things as I’ve attempted to summarize in a post on a teal leadership model.

But how exactly do organizations operating from a teal paradigm resolve employee disengagement?

Below are 5 ideas to move your organization towards a teal paradigm of operation.

1. What’s IN It For Them?

Traditionally, companies held the belief that employees simply required a stable monthly salary to be content. They assumed this would suffice to maintain employee satisfaction. Employees, in turn, willingly assisted the employer in achieving their goals, often sacrificing their own to some extent.

In contrast to this perspective, organizations operating from a teal paradigm prioritize the personal visions of each employee throughout their relationship with the company. Starting from the recruitment process, the focus lies in identifying a mutually beneficial intersection between the company’s vision and the individual’s vision. Throughout the course of the relationship, the organization takes into account the unique needs of the individual. Furthermore, even after the termination of a contract, the relationship persists, as exemplified by Sounds True CEO Tami Simon and Emerging Women founder Chantal Pierrat in their introductory dialogue during an interview. Chantal, formerly an employee of Tami, made the decision to pursue her personal vision of discovering extraordinary women and inspiring others to embrace their power.

As a leader, whenever you request someone to undertake a task, consider what incentives it holds for the employee. Why would they choose to do it? What benefits does it offer them? Will it contribute to their progress towards their personal vision? In what ways? Additionally, explore how the task can be advantageous for both parties involved, fostering a win-win scenario.

2. Treat everyone differently

As human beings, one of our greatest fears is the fear of insignificance. We all have a deep desire to feel special and make a meaningful contribution to society. Each person wants to know that they matter.

It is the leader’s responsibility to understand and bring out the best in every team member. The leader possesses the power to make employees feel significant and valuable. By treating each individual as a human being, rather than just a human resource, they acknowledge and affirm the person’s significance.

When interacting with team members, actively consider their unique personalities and communication style. Tailor your language and approach to resonate with them, just as a caring parent would adjust their communication for a small child versus a teenager.

Be aware of significant life events that may impact a person’s well-being and performance at work. It is unrealistic to expect someone experiencing a divorce, for instance, to maintain full productivity. When you acknowledge and respect the humanity of each individual and actively involve everyone in the team, they are more inclined to surpass expectations and willingly offer contributions beyond the minimum requirement.

3. Make it voluntary

When people feel forced to attend meetings where they feel they add or gain no benefit, they will be disengaged.  The time they sit in the meeting is wasted for both parties and there is a false sense of security created by believing that the message was heard and will be acted upon.

The physical body in the room does not guarantee the mental attention you require for action.

One of the most important changes to increase engagement is to make meetings and events voluntary.  In most cases, people will continue coming or miss one or two sessions before they realize the value.

When people take ownership, they are automatically more responsible and trustworthy – something every leader wants from their teams.  As a leader, make it acceptable for people to decline a meeting invite.

4. Make it interesting

Having a recurring, mandatory meeting shouldn’t mean that it can’t be engaging.  Change the format of the meeting.  Change the location. Add food.  Rotate facilitator roles. Involve the participants and engage everyone in the team by asking them questions or giving them time and space to report back to the rest of the organization or team in an area of their expertise.

There are countless ways to make something more interesting simply by changing one thing.  Meetings are interesting when there is an element of the unexpected.  Be careful however to not introduce too much change as that will only cause confusion.

Next time you schedule a meeting, ask yourself how you can make it more interesting.

5. Include games or game mechanics

Engaging everyone in the team is most effectively achieved by actively involving each team member. The facilitation technique known as Gamestorming was specifically designed with this principle in mind.

In an e-book that focuses on optimizing games in the workplace, I delve into the mechanics of games, the workings of the brain, and the effectiveness of various techniques employed in games. Additionally, I provide guidance on applying different techniques to different situations in order to maximize feedback while minimizing resource expenditure.

Numerous websites and resources offer game ideas, but one particularly effective technique is dot voting. This method ensures that each person in a meeting possesses equal voting power. This reduces the risk of one person dominating the discussion. Another valuable technique is silent writing, where participants are asked to jot down their thoughts or ideas on sticky notes without engaging in immediate conversation, subsequently posting them on a wall.

While these techniques are more akin to facilitation techniques than games, their success lies in granting every individual an equal opportunity to contribute. Visualizing all ideas or thoughts allows for more quantitative decision-making. Words alone often fall short of capturing the big picture and fail to provide each person with a chance to contribute. By actively involving everyone, a more accurate representation of reality is attained, fostering a greater sense of ownership among participants.


The successful organizations of the future are the ones that are able to engage everyone in the team.  There are countless ways to do this, all based on the individuality of each person, freedom, and trust of the leaders of the organization.

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With more than 20 years experience in the software development industry, Kate specializes in helping teams get unstuck, communicate better and ultimately be more productive. She believes in efficiency through fun implementing lean, agile and playful design as tools for process improvement and organizational change. Her goal is to create more happy, healthy and whole workplaces where each person thrives and productivity soars.