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If you’ve seen one big, corporate event, you’ve seen them all, right? If you’d have told me that a couple of weeks ago, I might’ve agreed. But not after the recent Microsoft Ready – an event for internal employees, running parallel to Microsoft’s partner-focused Inspire. I feel invigorated and inspired by what I witnessed. I feel… Ready. Sat in the departure lounge at McCarran International Airport, and resisting the temptation to splurge the last of my spare dollars on a ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ fridge magnet, I find myself reaching for my laptop. I feel an unprecedented need to write about what I learnt about employee engagement. To remember, and reflect on how a company can successfully connect with its most valuable assets…

 

Stay humble

Microsoft events are always an incredible learning experience. This year’s Microsoft Ready was no different. Together, Microsoft employees and partners joined to reaffirm our belief in the Microsoft ethos – that our technology is designed to empower everyone.

That, alone, is humbling. To think that technology we all too often take for granted has the power to transform and grow a small business or improve healthcare for remote African villages. Technology changes lives. Hearing Corenote speakers share those stories on-stage only intensified that humbling experience.

But you sense that, with its organisational awareness and corporate honesty, Microsoft’s leadership team are as humbled by the power of tech as their audience was. It helps keep us all on the same level, and gives us all a goal to work towards.

 

Be practical

One of the top highlights, for me, were Ready’s sessions. This is always one of my favourite parts of any event – it’s a chance to connect with colleagues old and new. It’s an opportunity to discuss new ideas and marvel at what we’ve all achieved.

Microsoft Ready’s employee engagement activities, however, aren’t like anything I’ve ever experienced. This isn’t two hours of impact-free blather. The technical sessions that I attended were hailed as some of the most useful, for one simple reason: they impart practical knowledge directly transferable to ‘the real world’.

Should a session not quite live up to expectation, workshop organisers were quick to act. They were receptive to feedback, happy to re-shape the content. One or two even shared contact details for further engagement. In keeping with our theme, they took the practical approach to improvement. And it makes us feel like we’re helping future employees get even more out of these sessions. Together, we’re making a difference (and an even better place to work).

 

Ready to be inspired about employee engagement at Microsoft Inspire

Find the winning formula

The winning formula. That’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? No matter what we do, we’re all seeking that oh-so-sweet spot that helps us be more productive and serve our customers better.

At Microsoft Ready, I think I found it.

Microsoft employees and partners are an intensely technical bunch. Now, fuse that mind-set with a healthy amount of commercial awareness. That’s a powerful, almost unstoppable combination; a winning formula that can be fully employed to support our customers’ goals. It creates a flurry of engagement that makes a customer’s journey with us more pleasurable. Our ‘winning formula’, in effect, becomes their winning formula, too.

 

It’s hard work – but worth it

There can’t be many of us who have put on an international event, bringing together internal employees and external partners. But I’ll let you into a little secret: it takes even more planning than you realise.

Preparation is intense and production value second to none – and I reckon the logistics alone are worthy of a Netflix docuseries about bringing it all to life. Netflix presents Microsoft Ready to Roll, anyone? Because it’s not just about pointing a camera at a well-lit stage. Think of the legions of people offering assistance on the ground. The deployment of transport between venues carried out with military precision. The technical support…

It all made me appreciate just how much all that hard work pays off.

You can say the same about true employee engagement. It doesn’t just happen. You can’t snap your fingers and expect to engage staff, just as you can’t cobble together an event like Microsoft Ready in the blink of an eye. You need to lay the groundwork, draw up plans, know what you want to achieve. But, you’ve really got to put the work in to get the most out.

 

Trust the people

Microsoft has always put its people first. It’s clear to me that the company has a genuine interest in the well-being of employees. It always has. Now, being at Microsoft Ready really brought that home. I saw, first-hand, how Microsoft gives its people the greatest possible autonomy and control. Who better to take decisions than an experienced individual?

That level of trust in people is inspirational. But I feel there’s more to it than that.

It makes people feel valued. It engages them, and gives them the confidence to sound out new ideas. Microsoft’s stance – not micro-managing, not treating employees like schoolchildren to be corralled and constricted – creates a productive workplace environment where disciplined, effective collaboration between teams is welcomed. The result is overall better engagement.

‘Microsoft is changing the world,’ I like to say, ‘one workload at a time.’

And I mean every workload – whether it’s one of us Microsoft employee or the staff of one of our dedicated partners or customers. This is about a balance between technology and humanity. A balance I believe Microsoft brilliantly handles, as it introduces a fresh, modern workplace culture that connects with employees on a meaningful level.

 

Find out more

Employee engagement starts with a conversation

Real World Guide to Employee Engagement

 

About the author

Nas Taibi, Solutions Architect at MicrosoftNas Taibi works as a Solutions Architect in Microsoft. He has over 10 years’ experience working in the Healthcare industry, developing and architecting solutions for Medical Imaging companies (Radiology/Cardiology) and promoting interoperability between healthcare providers using FHIR and HL7v2. Making a difference in the overall patient journey is also a personal goal, so in his spare time, Nas develops healthcare apps and helps other entrepreneurs get started in the healthcare industry.