I thought so! The disconnect between strategy and execution can be HUGE, and what typically fails is what I like to call “The Engagement Factor”. Employee engagement is much more than just teamwork because it’s more about passion than it is about collaboration. Ever notice how the truly successful companies seem to have the most passionate employees? Those are the companies with high “profit per employee” ratios and typically leading the “Best Place to Work” surveys.
Engagement driven by passion
Passion is a healthy & thriving burning in your belly to succeed. It feeds determination and makes people hunger to overcome challenges which present themselves. Engagement driven by passion is when we feel we’re involved in something greater than the sum of ourselves and our colleagues. That’s why it’s important to validate your company’s reason for being, purpose or mission, whilst making sure that it’s relevant to every single person in your organization.
When people feel a sense of purpose in what they do, they’ll move mountains to make something great happen.
Transparency is key
If you don’t trust your people, how can you expect them to trust you? There is no such thing as confidential when it comes to strategy or results in your company as it pertains to your staff. Yes, in order to effectively role out a strategy it has to often be communicated in a staged fashion. But if you adopt an attitude that certain information can’t be divulged for fear that it will leak out to your competition, such as forecasts or expected results.. guess what.. you’ll never gain your team’s trust.. and therefore they will never fully engage in your strategy.
I compare this attitude to telling a pilot to load up his plane with +300 passengers & just take-off without worrying where he’s headed or how much fuel he has. Can you imagine giving destination details only in mid-flight?
So why would you do the same to your team?
Sell the benefits – What’s in it for me?
No one does anything just because they want to! There has to be a driving force, or a motivation to get people to buy-into doing something. And the quicker you can sell the personal benefits to the individual who has to do the work, the faster and more effectively you’ll get your strategy executed.
There’s always a “what’s in it for me” if you have a sound plan. It could be education or a new skill that will lead to a new opportunity, even if only of self-improvement or self-worth. Those are actually the most powerful! It could be a greater sense of peace by just being involved & being part of something that will be great.
Find the “what’s in it for me” for the individuals that need to perform the work & watch your results soar through the roof.
Communication & pulse checks
Back to our pilot & +300 passengers headed for a safe destination. How do you think he would feel as he sees large dark clouds on the horizon and without relevant information from ground control? Communication settles people fears. Unmanaged fears turn into hysterics and unnecessarily increase the sense of danger. OK, you might still get scared, but don’t you prefer to hear a calming voice tell you that we’re about to hit some turbulence that we’re equipped to handle & that we’ll be through it within a few minutes? Ladies & gentlemen for your safety & precaution, we’ve just turned on the fasten your seat-belt sign.
Regular feedback & progress reports will keep people engaged, aligned and motivated. I’ve often held the hand of a nervous passenger next to me, reassuring them that we’ve just got a few more minutes to go.
“Trust me, we’ll get through this together” is the message you’re conveying when you give regular feedback as it relates to the initial objective of your strategic plan.
Celebrate your landing
I know.. I too chuckle to myself when the whole back of the plane breaks into applause at the landing of a plane. But that’s actually what life is all about! Celebrating every win, no matter how small or repetitive. Celebrate your wins, big & small, and watch how eager your team is when the next strategic journey is announced.
Which of these is the most challenging for you or your organization? How can I answer any doubts you still have about “The Engagement Factor”?