How to Improve Team Engagement

5 Minutes Read

Episode 115

Shawn Richards is joining us today to talk about how to improve team engagement. He is a business executive with over 30 years of experience in the business world, having worked for and with small businesses as either COO or CFO. Shawn is committed to business success at all levels. 

In recent years, Shawn has found tremendous passion in helping leaders develop team-building skills and strategies that turn excellent teams into high-performing teams. His training program comprises nine different courses designed to help leaders learn how to boost productivity and build a positive culture.

Shawn is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a certified TES facilitator for AIIR Consulting of Philadelphia. He also hosts the Team Engagement Podcast.

Today, he joins us to discuss his secrets to improve team engagement and build a high-performing team. 

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the complete episode:

  • Shawn shares his perspective on building teams and what makes it so difficult.
  • Discover the three most essential elements for a high-performing team.
  • Find out what the Clifton Strengths Assessment is and the strategy behind its strengths.

Episode Highlights

Who is Shawn Richards

    • Shawn has over 30 years of experience in the business world, spending time as COO or CFO.
    • Founder of Blue Sky Business Consulting.
    • Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a certified TES facilitator for AIIR Consulting of Philadelphia.
    • Host of the Team Engagement Podcast.

Starting a side hustle

    • Shawn spent many years working in and around small businesses.
    • Working under the direction of some great leaders and learning and growing into a leader himself.
    • He started a side hustle, coaching people to start their businesses.
    • He’d take them through the steps of going from an idea to the conception and getting it launched.

Refining his passion

    • In the last four years, Shawn refined his passion and started helping leaders of teams.
    • Helping them to understand their role and how they can be more effective.
    • Empowering them to help the people in their team and company see success.
    • He’s passionate about assisting leaders in leading teams effectively and at a high-performing level.

What makes building a team so difficult

    • Shawn says it’s the trust factor; your company is your baby when you’re an entrepreneur.
    • It takes a high level of trust to delegate tasks to others, entrusting them to carry it out to the level you envision. 
    • It’s also a challenge to hire effectively and retain talent.
    • For entrepreneurs looking to scale and expand, this is a big leap.

Advice for his younger self

    • Shawn’s advice to his younger self is to be willing to fail forward.
    • Try things and take a proactive learning approach to failure.
    • Failure will happen, but you must not let it set you back.
    • Be willing to use it for your personal growth, the growth of your idea, and your business growth.

Handling pressure

    • Shawn reminds himself that he has survived all this way.
    • He says it’s rarely as bad as you think it is.
    • Over 30 years, he has relied on his survivability and resilience. 
    • There are opportunities in difficult times to learn about yourself, the people around you, and your business.
    • It’s essential to keep an open mind to see those opportunities. 

He was sure this was the end

    • Shawn worked as a CFO for a small business and made a mistake on a projection.
    • He had been reporting to the supervisors that $200,000 would still come in, but he had already recorded it.
    • When Shawn realized the mistake, he felt the nerves in the pit of his stomach.
    • He had to go to the owner and have a challenging conversation about his mistake.

Working through the setback

    • After getting an earful from the owner about his mistake, it wasn’t long before they went into problem-solving mode.
    • He was impressed with the resilience of his leader, who said we couldn’t change it, but what are we going to do about it, and how can we prevent this from happening again.
    • It was a significant setback, but the company survived it, and it was a learning experience.

Valuable lessons learned

    • Shawn is grateful that he had the opportunity to be a part of finding a solution and that he had a team of supportive people.
    • While they weren’t happy, they understood that things happen, which was a valuable lesson when becoming a leader himself.
    • He learned the importance of problem-solving by getting into a creative mindset.
    • The creative element of a leader and the team is critical.

Adapting during the pandemic

    • Before the pandemic, Shawn did workshops, coaching, and consulting in person.
    • While an element of fear does set in, it’s important to switch into creative mode.
    • He changed direction by starting his podcast and creating online programs and courses where he now has a worldwide reach.
    • It was a great learning opportunity for him, and it has allowed for renewed excitement and enthusiasm for his business and passion. 

How to improve team engagement 

    • Even though it’s referred to as team engagement, this is a bit of a misnomer as you deal with various individuals with a common purpose.
    • There are two components, employee engagement and team engagement.
    • Employee engagement is how the individual is performing in their role.
    • Team engagement is how they collaborate and are they moving in the same and right direction.
    • It’s vital to talk to your employees and improve engagement with individuals and the team.

Those who work against the cause

    • There are many reasons why someone may no longer connect to the mission or direction of the company.
    • They could feel like their voice is not heard, but most times, if their opinions can be voiced but aren’t accepted, they can still get on board.
    • Something could be happening in their personal life where empathy becomes necessary.
    • Someone could have been passed over for a promotion, and this is where a firm conversation needs to take place.

The three biggest elements

    • High productivity.
    • Positive culture.
    • Competent leader in managing the above two elements as well as the people.

Clifton Strengths Assessment

    • This is a very robust and researched data-driven assessment.
    • The whole point of this strengths strategy is to understand that everyone has something to offer and contribute; it’s a big part of improving team engagement.
    • When you can help someone discover and play to their strengths, they become a great contributor in their personal and professional lives and are much happier.
    • From an output perspective and an efficiency standpoint, a leader must know the strengths of their team members.

How does Shawn want to be remembered?

    • That he cared about others and wanted them to succeed.

3 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

26:44 – “…When you pull together a team, the entire team needs to work together and have that engagement together and move in the same direction. How are they collaborating? Are they communicating well? Are they moving in the same direction?”

37:15 – “Most people don’t leave the job, they leave their manager, and they leave the executives and the people they seem to be out of sync with, and by improving the leader’s overall performance, we reduce that turnover.” 

39:54 – “But the whole point, the strategy behind strengths is to understand that everyone has something to offer. It’s looking at what’s good about someone and helping them use more of that to work and to contribute to the world around them.” 


About Shawn Richards

Did you know that 70% of the reasons people quit their jobs can be addressed by their leaders? Shawn is on a mission to coach leaders by sharing his secrets so that you’ll know how to improve team engagement and build a high-performing team. 

Shawn says that high-performing teams are not automatically created when you assemble a group of great people. High-performing teams innovate, communicate, problem-solve, and contribute to a company’s overall success. If you’re looking to start developing the skills and knowledge needed to thrive as a confident leader of a high-performing team, he’d love to connect with you. He is passionate about helping ambitious leaders looking to grow their leadership skills to an exceptionally high level.


Connect with Shawn




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Thanks for listening,


Picture of Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and Co-founder/CEO of Yokel Local Digital Marketing Agency. He and his teams have helped businesses generate over $300M+ in revenue online. Every month, he leads virtual workshops teaching actionable strategies and tips from his experience helping companies market, grow, and scale.