Growing staff engagement: what indigenous cultures can teach us

My passion for growing empathy and understanding has seen me work with diverse clients; from year 3 students to senior executives, from high performing teams to children at risk, from minorities to the majority, from the powerful to the powerless. You’d be surprised at how similar the basics of engagement are, no matter who we are.

The Circle of Courage model for youth re-engagement, developed in 1990 by Martin Brokenleg and Larry Brendtro, portrays four growth needs of all young people: Mastery, Belonging, Independence, and Generosity.

In the context of the work environment, I like to ask leaders to play around with applying the model to staff needs, and get the most out of their team by working with people to develop the following experiences for them:

  • Mastery – I am increasingly good at what I do. I understand what I can do to become more effective. My strengths are openly acknowledged. I am supported in my development.
  • Belonging – I feel like this is where I want to be. I have a sense of connection with those around me. I’m a valued member of the team. My team seeks to resolve conflict when it arises, prioritising healthy relationships.
  • Independence – My responsibilities are clear and I’m well supported in those responsibilities. I feel trusted to achieve my goals, collaborate with others, make decisions and bring ideas for improvement and innovation to the table.
  • Generosity – I am aware of the needs of others, and I have a role in supporting others to have those needs met. I understand what and who we are contributing to beyond our day-to-day tasks. I understand the difference we are making.

Try using it as a starting point for a conversation with staff about their development needs. For staff that seem disengaged, you may find that it becomes very obvious which one or more of these areas needs special attention.

The Circle of Courage model was developed by Martin Brokenleg, a professor of Native American Studies, and Larry Brendtro, a professor in children’s behavior disorders. They studied how traditional indigenous cultures were able to rear respectful, responsible children without resorting to coercive discipline. The model was adopted by youth services in South Africa during the administration of Nelson Mandela.

By | 2017-05-22T08:43:21+08:00 September 28th, 2016|Categories: Engagement, Staff Development|Tags: , |0 Comments

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