Without employee buy-in values and strategy are just jargon on the wall
Numerous organisations maintain structures based on what seemed to work in the past. Many off then these elements are based on best practise in a manufacturing era, rather than in an agile knowledge-based workplace. Through deliberate crafting of structure with your purpose, brand and culture in mind you can begin to inspire employees to live the organisation’s desired values and strategy daily.
1. The rules are uncertain.
Employees often don’t know what the stakes actually are, or even how the game is really played. When employees don’t understand the organisation’s values, vision, strategy, brand promise and marketplace realities – they don’t know how to help, or what may damage progress. A survey by Harris Interactive of 23 000 employees revealed that only about 1/3 rd of employees understood what the organisation was trying to achieve, and why. It is a lot like playing on a team where most of the players don’t know how to score, or where to goal is. Not knowing how you fit in, or how your effort contributes to the big picture leads to disinterest. How can you get excited about something you don’t understand?
2. It is unclear how to make a real contribution.
Getting the big values and strategy picture isn’t enough, employees need to understand how their contribution impacts it. We need to understand which specific behaviours and actions have the greatest impact to ensure our effort is not wasted. The more we know how our effort makes a difference and how to make a difference, the more we care.
3. They feel unsupported.
Too many managers don’t understand the power on intrinsic motivation, and hope that money is enough of a motivator. This misunderstanding of the drivers of performance and human nature often leads to teams of frustrated, resentful, listless zombies. When we understand how to manage people as whole human beings we can create an environment that stimulates innovation, passion, courage, and a willingness to go that extra step to make your values and strategy a reality.
4. The “why” is unclear.
Employees want to know more than just WHAT the organisation is trying to achieve and HOW they can help, they also need to know WHY it matters.
The following characteristics are common in organisations with employees who care:
- They share how what the organisation does matters in the world.
- Leadership acts in ways that demonstrate they care about and respect their employees.
- Excellence is celebrated, teamwork is encouraged, commitments are kept, and feedback and requests are acted on.
- Managers listen to and act on employee concerns
5. They feel their efforts don’t matter.
First impressions count. Caring is demonstrated through support and giving them a voice. When on-boarding is ineffective employees don’t get the tools, training, or resources to do their jobs well. They also feel that they don’t matter. They soon stop caring or trying, or leave to go where they will feel their contributions matter. Are you preparing new employees for success or failure? Do you provide all employees with the understanding, tools, training, and support they need to succeed on a regular basis?
6. Bad behaviour and poor performance are ignored – for some.
When disrespectful and dysfunctional behaviour goes unchallenged (or is even rewarded) it quickly poisons the work environment. When rewards are purely outcomes based (i.e., getting the deal) and behaviour does not matter, it results in a toxic culture. The impact is compounded when certain negative behaviour is ignored in some and punished in others. This inconsistent correction of poor behaviour damages morale, productivity, and service quality. Do you have the right managers to correct bad behaviour? This type of proactive leadership requires difficult conversations and people management skills.
7. They don’t feel appreciated for their contributions.
What we pay attention to gets repeated. What we take for granted fades away. When employees feel like the extra effort they put in, and the sacrifices they make, are taken for granted they stop doing it. However, when we consistently recognise, appreciate, and celebrate high performance, small wins, and positive value aligned behaviours that make your strategy achievable, we get more of those behaviours and, more employees who care about making a valuable contribution.
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