Engagement through Post-It notes

The other day, I was doing work at work – weird, I know, but stay with me. I was manipulating a lot of different ideas, and the way I like to do this is with Post-It notes. One idea per note, stick them up on a big blank wall (or window, or white board, or whatever is available) and then categorize, order, group, etc. This helps me to get my ideas coherent before moving on. (Please – if this technique helps you, use it. I’ve used it for academic assignments, corporate training design, change management planning -you name it, this technique works for me.)

Here was the problem – the Post-It notes at work weren’t sticky enough. They kept falling down off the surface I was using, and that got frustrating. Not to mention that I was losing productivity. And they were all yellow. Sometimes I like to use the different colours for my different categories of ideas. For example, opportunities are in orange, risks are in pink, training ideas are in blue, and so on.

So I had some choices.

I could find another methodology. But I really really really wanted to use what had worked for me in the past.

I could use Scotch Tape, but I was worried that would cause damage to the wall (which was painted) or would not remove cleanly from the window. (Ever tried to scrape Scotch Tape remnants off glass? You know what I mean…)

I could kvetch about it to my colleagues.

I could give up.

I could order Post-It notes through the office administrator who does these things, and wait days for the order to be placed (with a bunch of other orders) and wait days for it to come in, assuming that I was allowed to order what I wanted to.

So what did I do?

I got in my car and drove to my favourite office supplies store and bought myself the Post-It notes that I wanted. The next day, I finished up my work, the way I wanted.

Yes, I am out of pocket. But only a little. And they are MY Post-It notes – I feel just fine about taking them home with me if I want.

But what is really great is that I got my work done, the way I wanted, and I feel ENGAGED about the work that I am doing.

Here’s the deal – workplace engagement is a two-way street. Yes, there are things that your employer can put in place to help foster your engagement. Your employer can (and should) pay you well, ensure a safe and healthy working environment, supply the tools you need to do your job, and so on.

But there are other things that the employee can (and should) do to increase his or her own engagement. You can ask for what you need at work, you can smile at your colleagues, you can bring treats – just because, you can seek and create meaning in your daily tasks, and you can take charge of doing things the way you need to for optimal results.

What have you done lately for your own engagement at work?


(Note – this post was not sponsored by 3M, but they could if they wanted to…)


Lisa Sansom

Lisa Sansom has her MBA from the Rotman School of Management, and over two decades of experience in teaching and training. Her years of work in the organizational development field have included projects on change management, employee engagement, leadership development, team coaching and employer of choice strategies.

Reader Interactions


  1. Judy Krings says

    Dear Lisa,

    Thanks for your upbeat blog that engendered a broad grin.

    I admit it. I am also a post-it note junkie. There ARE some addictions worth keeping. I admire your valuing yourself enough to be mindful to observe in yourself what you knew you needed to be engaged. Kudos to no kvetching!

    I do hope you treated yourself to the fluorescent post-its. I got spoiled with them when my daughter worked for 3M!

    Sisters in the Stickies,
    Judy Krings

  2. Jan Stanley says

    A great “post!” I liked the reminder that, whether you’re in the manager’s seat or the employee’s, engagement is indeed a two-way street!

  3. Lisa Sansom says

    Thank you both Jan and Judy for your kind messages! I was in a meeting today where the engagement talk was all about what the managers and the organization can do. Haven’t heard many people talking yet about how employees also need to walk through the door. Will keep you “posted” – ha ha ha.

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