In today’s disjointed world, most people say they feel disconnected and apathetic in regard to their jobs. With all the negative noise streaming in from multiple modalities, people are often overwhelmed with demotivating and disturbing messages. These negative messages get in the way and distract people from thinking straight and staying focused at work.
Feeling a strong connection with the mission and vision of a company is one of the top global drivers of employee engagement. CEOs who are committed to strengthening employee engagement work hard to advance their skill of inspiring others and creating buy-in.
Why do some leaders easily catalyze their teams toward new goals and achievements while others seem to struggle just to maintain the status quo?
One of the primary traits of a successful leader is the ability to inspire people around a purpose, a mission and a vision. Leaders who are most effective at motivating and organizing people towards a common vision do five key things very well. They work diligently at sharing their vision and persistently at articulating the direction and mission of the organization. They outline the strategy and plan and openly communicate the company core values, their expectations and the definition of done.
These keys are the cornerstones to creating companywide alignment that boosts engagement, morale and overall success.
1. Share and Inspire a Compelling Mission
Great leaders regularly bring people closer to their purpose and the purpose of their work. If the vision for the organization is not inspiring — or is only to make a profit — it is pretty challenging to inspire others and get them to rally around it.
Employee engagement research states that for people to feel a connection with their work, they need to be able to envision themselves achieving purpose at work. An astute leader nurtures alignment among their workforce by linking the key performance indicators of each role in the organization to the overall key performance indicators and objectives of the business. When people are able to “connect the dots” from what they do each day to how it impacts the customer — and maybe even the world at large — they are much more engaged and concerned for what they do and how well they deliver it.
2. Institutionalize and Perpetuate Guiding Principles and Values
Building guiding principles and core values into the culture is a very powerful way to institutionalize and perpetuate the right behaviors throughout the organization. Leaders who are serious about their core values and guiding principles discipline themselves and their organization to only hire people who are aligned and have the ability to demonstrate those values and principles through the right on the job behavior. Behavioral and values-based interviewing is a key component of a values driven organization’s hiring process. In these same types of companies, leadership development and succession planning programs are created and built on the foundation of the core values and guiding principles.
3. Clearly Articulate Expectations and Intended Outcomes
Organizational objectives and desired outcomes are best achieved when clearly articulated and repeated often. Business leaders often voice frustration because their message in its true intent is not reaching all the ranks. The reality is, most people need to hear things seven times before committing it to memory. Therefore role requirements, goals and objectives also need to be repeated frequently enough to ensure everyone involved is present to and aware of the game plan and what it looks like to win.
Some leaders of larger organizations cascade their message to the workforce through their trusted and capable management team. Others design a communication strategy and deliver their message through a series of channels; like individualized emails, the company intranet, daily from the desk of “CEO” thoughts, weekly CEO talks, or monthly town hall meetings and newsletters.
4. Foster Excitement and Celebrate Forward Momentum
Alignment happens intrinsically when people are gathered together in service of a mission bigger than themselves. They are called forth by the purpose and the mission and then measure their success by milestones and accomplishments along the way. A leader that celebrates forward movement, learning from failures, taking risks and working collaboratively to remove barriers and advance is a leader who teaches his troops to keep their eye on the prize.
5. Build Trust Through Open Communication and Clarity
One of the most important components necessary to nurture and grow workforce alignment is for the leader and management to have a strong relationship with their word. Trusting senior leaders and management is a critical driver of employee engagement. Integrity and open communication is one of the most crucial behaviors of highly effective leaders. People do not trust a leader of an organization who does not follow through on promises or has a reputation as someone who re-negotiates agreements after the fact. Creating boundaries and agreements as well as honoring those agreements and boundaries is where the rubber meets the road with honoring one’s word.
Trust is not about being perfect and certainly not about keeping things static and steady. It is about clearly communicating when and why things need to change, and giving people advance notice of those changes and how they can best adapt.
In today’s shifting & highly competitive global talent market place companies and business leaders are searching for ways to reduce unwanted employee turnover, raise employee engagement and maximize returns on human capital investments. Building and fostering an aligned and purposeful workforce is a sure way to optimize, energize and retain your best people.
Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. For more information, visit www.KeenAlignment.com.