What we can learn from the victorious Vikings to inspire & engage our people in these challenging ti

Historical times & unexplored terrain

We are well into 2021 now… and what a start to the year it has been: these are historical times! Many business and HR leaders I know have started off the new year with a huge challenge. Engaging and inspiring people after 3 lockdowns - with them working remotely - is unexplored terrain for most. I, however, would like to inspire you in these challenging times… by digging up some valuable Viking history!

What made those Vikings victorious

The Vikings were famously known for being fearless warriors who would go into battle after they had rowed their heavy 800 lb boats across the waters for many long, hard miles. Their boats were made with great precision and skill. But they would only propel forward if those aboard were engaged enough to make the effort required.

In other words: the boats were only as good as the people on board!

Our world today would have looked quite different if those victorious Vikings had not been completely engaged in their purpose. If their leaders hadn’t called out the timing of the strokes. If they hadn’t managed to create the motivation to row their boats at a speed, in unison as one big team. If they hadn’t encouraged their warriors to keep going for the glory that awaited them.

Are you ready for the glory that awaits you too?

If you are, start by looking at your business. What do you see in your people? How is your boat moving? Are you convinced all of your warriors are encouraged and engaged enough to ensure your boat couldn’t possibly move any better and faster?

When we look at our clientele, often, that is unfortunately not what we see - especially not in these historical times…

About reliable rowers, anchor-droppers and passengers

Employee engagement surveys show that typically only around 15% of people are highly engaged at work - breathing the company values and choosing to go the extra mile. You can think of these people as the reliable rowers at the front of your boat - rowing hard and doing everything in their power to take your boat forwards.

At the back of your boat, there will be around 25% of employees who are highly disengaged. These are the people dropping anchor and preventing you from making any progress at all.

That leaves us with the remaining 60%, seated in the middle section of the boat. These people tend to behave as passengers, merely going along for the ride. They are neither rowing, nor dropping anchor. They just do the minimum they have to do to be able to stay on board.

Not out of the woods just yet… 2020 was a year to forget as quickly as possible. But the challenging start to 2021 has shown us that we are not out of the woods just yet!

So how about you?

Are you one of those many business and HR leaders I know that are having a hard time navigating this unexplored terrain?

Have you tried just about anything to inspire and engage your people? But do you still lie awake at night, worrying they are feeling disconnected from their peers, managers and your company culture in these lockdown times?

Rowing for success

If so, go back to basics and incorporate some Viking strategy into the running of your business! Focus on the middle section of your boat: if you can awaken these employees-behaving-as-passengers to be engaged with the purpose, mission, vision and values of your business - just like those Viking warriors were - you are much more likely to attain the glory that awaits you too.

Because yes, these are historical times. Times in which those companies that have a great people strategy, will be the ones leaving their competitors behind to victoriously row on to conquer new lands…

Is your business ready to row for your success?

Ian Feaver


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