Four Key Ingredients for Creating a Highly Engaged Team

Four Key Ingredients for Creating a Highly Engaged Team

When the results of a recent survey revealed that the staff of the Orange County Council in southern California felt largely satisfied with their jobs and were engaged in the council’s work to deliver Scouting programs to more than 20,000 youth members in the area, Scout Executive Jeff Herrmann was pleased. But he wasn’t surprised.

“It is something that both our staff leaders and council executive board work hard to foster every day,” he said. “We think we have developed the ‘secret sauce’ (as our Chief Scout Executive likes to say), but like the best recipes, it takes many ingredients blended together to make it work.”

Read on to discover which ingredients deserve a small pinch, and which make up a much larger part of the mix:

1. Lead the Way With Scouting Principles

  • We conduct all of our business with the Scout Oath and Law as guiding principles — especially when dealing with each other.
  • We try to eliminate personal pronouns in our work whenever possible, using “we and ours” as opposed to “me and mine.”
  • Regardless of their roles, we refer to all of our team members as “professionals.” Some of our team members are also “commissioned” by the BSA.

2. Develop Your Team

  • All of our full-time employees participate in our multi-day staff planning conference and play a role in deciding our three (and only three) staff goals for the year.
  • All employees get to participate in several training or cross-training activities each year. Many are not “BSA” courses, but rather events that are available in our community.

3. Include Everyone!

  • All of our full-time employees participate in monthly staff meetings and annual planning conferences (and not just commissioned employees). We also invite part-time employees to staff meetings and functions when appropriate.
  • All of our staff meetings (whether full staff or a smaller team meetings) begin with a flag ceremony, Scout Oath and Law, the BSA mission statement, an invocation, and a thought for the day. We rotate the assignments so everyone gets to contribute.
  • Each of our staff teams meet at least once a month, with everyone in attendance.
  • We celebrate work anniversaries and birthdays at every monthly full staff meeting.
  • We have a “staff appreciation jar.” All team members are encouraged to drop in the name of fellow staff member citing something that was done that was extraordinary or helped lighten the load. At the monthly staff meeting, we select an entry at random and have gift cards for the good deed doer and the nominator.
  • We incorporate fun activities from time ato time at our staff meetings such as: bowling, Crossfit training, potluck lunches, and our annual “Amazing Race.”
  • When we have a staff opening, we encourage current employees to recommend their friends — this actually works!

4. Find Your Formula (Like “4DX,” or Four Disciplines of Execution)

  • We have a council “strategic frame” approved by our board that helps us stay focused on just five council objectives.
  • Staff goals are closely aligned with executive board objectives and are approved by the board.
  • We use an outside facilitator to help us establish our staff team goals each year. Goals are derived for our board-approved council “objectives.” Every full-time employee gets to join a WIG Team (Wildly Important Goal) for the subject they are passionate about, even if the WIG is mostly addressed in a different department from a SMART goal perspective.
  • WIG Teams meet every two weeks to monitor and report on progress toward the goal. Dashboards announce monthly progress for every WIG and are distributed to both staff and volunteer groups.
  • Our WIG teams challenge themselves to focus on “leading indicators” or leverage points to assure success in goal achievement.
  • We look for ways to ease the burden of being a Scouting volunteer and incorporate and celebrate best practices when we find them.

Is your council taking similar steps to increase employee engagement and satisfaction? If so, let us know about it at

Engagement and satisfaction. Stay tuned for monthly stories that share the actions, commitments, and practices of councils that experience high levels of engagement and satisfaction within their teams. For more information, visit the BSA Engagement 365 website.

John Churchill

John Churchill is a communications manager for the Boy Scouts of America, as well as an Eagle Scout and volunteer Scouter. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at


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Four Key Ingredients for Creating a Highly Engaged Team
Four Key Ingredients for Creating a Highly Engaged Team
Four Key Ingredients for Creating a Highly Engaged Team
Four Key Ingredients for Creating a Highly Engaged Team