PORTLAND, OR--No matter how aggressively managers try to get employees to accomplish company goals, they won't comply unless they really want to.

A high level of employee involvement is vital to the success of any project, says Robert Pater, founder of Strategic Safety Associates. "Managers attempt all kinds of tricks and games to activate participation, but for many, involvement is the Holy Grail of organizational leadership," he says. "Tremendous turnarounds always seem to be ignited by a high level of participation and involvement."

One way to get a high level of employee involvement is to encourage creativity and idea generation, says Pater. Creativity is a numbers game. The more ideas proposed, the more likely some genuinely useful ones will come out. Silly ideas or incomplete suggestions are often developed into highly useful proposals.

Another way to get involvement is to engage staff as part of the improvement process, says Pater. Employees may shun changes if they were not involved in the planning process. If employees participate in planning, they are more likely to embrace change, even if they didn't initially agree with the solution.

Attention is a crucial, often hidden element of employee involvement, Pater says. When people see that what they are doing is part of a larger process, they can better focus on their tasks without losing sight of the overall mission.

Pater advises managers to tailor employee training to the individual. Everyone learns in different ways, he says. Some people are auditory learners, some are visual learners, and others are kinesthetic learners. While visual learners may prefer videos or charts, kinesthetic learners may prefer to learn by doing.