Over the holiday’s I was thinking about what I believe, a picture of company success would look like if it were run in a new open and authentic way. In reviewing all the teams that I had managed over the years, it became relatively easy to isolate out some of the best characteristics. Taken singularly, there are some ideas and answers that can be brought to bear but in the complex arena of organizational governance and politics it becomes a much more difficult & complex issue. Below are some of my thoughts for you to digest. What do you think? What would you add? What would you remove?
Are you struggling with making positive cultural changes? Does this look like a typical day in leadership heaven? One of your important projects is nose-diving into oblivion, it is going nowhere, and no one is calling it out. As the leader in your team, do you take responsibility and get the job done, or do you continue to delegate it off on an unfortunate subordinate in hopes that they will have a genius moment?
I believe most of us have been in similar positions at some time in our career. The initiatives that tend to suffer most are the strategic initiatives of the important-but-not-urgent variety. Everyone involved is frustrated, tired and morale is lousy, especially the rock star assigned to lead the effort. Every status meeting is like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day, with the rock star reporting lots of activity, with little progress. They serve up a revised plan with lots of new activities, and of course, an extended timeline. Everyone KNOWS that something has to change. The question is what?
An interesting article by The Wharton School in June, 2012 regarding Declining Employee Loyalty started me thinking about this concept and the current management wish list of re-engaging employees. Much of what was discussed in this article had a foundation in good logic and some great experience.
All businesses need to realize that employee engagement is critical for their success. It does not matter whether you have 5, 500, or 500,000 employees, it is important for success and growth. If you have not measured the level of engagement within your organization you might feel that everything is OK but I would challenge your comfort level and recommend you at least examine the sentiment within.
In this incredible period of competing pressures – demand for profitable growth, financial market volatility, political uncertainty, global shifts in workforce demographics and a rapidly shifting technology the leaders focus can be distracted from core issues and employee engagement is a big one. Leaders must recognize that but more importantly, “what do employees need in order to be engaged?” and “what behaviors are we asking them to engage in?”
Do you need to see a case for Employee Engagement?
Today, we have a dilemma that is facing many companies when it comes to hiring. Checklists are getting in the way. Having dealt with the application process for a while, I find it interesting what the automated process has done to the human interaction process.
We have dehumanized the interaction so much that defensive processes have started to appear that further jeopardize employee engagement, in my opinion.
For small businesses here in the US, we many times focus our energies on providing a great product, service or customer support but when dealing with a sustainable approach means that we must focus on all of the above. If you make a product that in must be the best product you can make, the same is true of services. However we must also be customer centric.
With nothing to sell, there is no purpose in being in business but equally what is a business without a customer?
Engagement: Are your employees aware of what is expected of them at work? Do you regularly provide support, praise and feedback to them? Do they feel they are understood and the management feels for them in a real and tangible way? Do you provide them with opportunities and encouragement to develop their skills at work? Do they feel as if their input is received and matters? Do they feel engaged?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, it’s likely you are dealing with actively disengaged employees. Engagement is the goal, however, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report 2013, actively disengaged employees are costing companies billions, in lost revenue.
How can you improve the situation? Three simple things will help start the process:
Many leaders today will speak about culture within their companies only when forced to and others aren’t there to listen. Culture is that internal force around which all of your processes, practices and ethics revolve. Culture is critical in today’s business environment and needs to be brought up every chance you have when discussing your future.
Corporate culture should remain the same across geographical regions and empower the people to be high performers. If you have the right high-performance culture, it will make for a high-performance company. You should have a very visible “Company Way” of doing things, a way that can be recognized by employees, management and customers regardless of where the company is located.
ONE COMPANY- One Culture should be your mantra however many leaders dilute the culture by not having the fortitude to infuse the full nature of a high performance culture into the DNA of their company. Offices are decorated differently, logo guidelines are not enforced, color palettes are not provided, communication methods are loosely driven and programs that drive respect are missing from the daily patterns.
There are a number of basic elements necessary for a sustainable high-performance culture:
It is frustrating to have to read minds
For instance, many employees are frustrated because they feel like they have to read their manager’s mind. They don’t know how they are doing and how they can do better. The annual performance review is sometimes their only chance to find out, and that event is so stressful and formal that the environment is not conducive for improvements.
I have noticed over the years that many leaders purport to have an open door policy with their people but in reality, it has become a facade for doing the same old management process. There are many excuses for this ranging from lack of time to the need for confidentiality being critical. Some of the reasons are legitimate but they need to be the exception rather than the rule.
If you truly want to have engaged associates then this is a topic that must be taken seriously and have a solid foundation so people know they are being listened and responded to in the work place. It should be a part of the business DNA as well as the associate handbook.