The Long-Haul of Cycling and Engagement

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement and Strategic Communications

Twenty years ago (now I am dating myself) I taught spinning classes. I loved it. I loved the mind-body connection; I loved the music, visualization and how much participants formed a sense of community. I don’t know why I stopped teaching or riding. Perhaps it was a move out West or busy school and work schedules, but I missed it a lot. Fast forward to today and I took the plunge and bought a Peloton bike. Now it’s not just me doing the rides, but there’s literally a family queue with everyone doing a ride most days. While on the bike I had a thought and it relates to everything, including engagement.

I tend to go all in and then, sadly, all out of something. I am either riding all the time or never. I have a great night-time routine or I am a disaster after the kids are in bed.

I set a goal for myself to be riding just as much a year from now as I am currently, which might mean I need to ride less. Consistency is gold and not always my strength. My goal around consistency relates to engagement because I see a lot of organizations go flat out on engagement. There’s a huge campaign, there’s online surveys, focus groups, interviews, they are doing cool interactive stuff…they are pounding out the engagement ride of their lives…and then it stops.

Like wow, that was a ride and now it’s over, we are done engaging. I get it. There is a huge amount of energy and focus required to engage, but ultimately, for staff, communities, and the people who want to be engaged by you, for them… it’s the long-ride they are interested in.

So, as we head back to school, back to the routine, I encourage you to think of engagement as an endurance ride. A ride that might have some mountains, but ultimately you are committing to consistency, to being there over the long-haul.

Here are five small pieces of inspiration to help you think about engagement endurance:

  1. Think Internal: How can you maintain internal engagement with your teams, staff or customers? Engagement doesn’t need to be “out there”; in can be within the organization and looks like staying connected, opening lines of communication and being on receive.
  2. Communicate First: How can you invest in communications that will result in more informed feedback? A lot of your decisions, or projects, are complex and require that you “prime” people to engage. Look down the road, what projects might be coming in 2022, that you could support with education and sharing information today?
  3. Build Capacity: How can you support the team with training and coaching? Just like no one gets on a bike and immediately rides 100km, no one implements a multi-phase, multi-party engagement plan without training and support.
  4. Pit Crew: Who is in your engagement pit crew? Not everyone needs to be on the ride, but there are people who will help you get there. Maybe now is the time to build a roster of great designers, web folks, data coders and facilitators?
  5. Routine Building: What routines can you start to build so that engagement becomes part of your culture? Maybe it’s setting clearer meeting objectives, debriefing how projects go, or building out evaluation measures. Starting to build solid routines will make implementing meaningful engagement plans easier over time.

Now, on a separate note, here is a Peloton referral code (9HFMDZ). If you are on the fence, I get it, it’s an investment, but we have loved our ride and I expect you to keep me honest in a year’s time. Enjoy the ride.