Employee engagement is a key driver of growth.
For many employees, large-scale company goals are a concern for the corner office. On one level, they are correct. It is the responsibility of the leadership team to ensure that the company is meeting its overarching company goals and objectives.
Employees are more focused on the tasks that are in front of them, so someone has to focus on the macro level. But when employees become completely disconnected from the plans discussed in the executive conference room, it creates a whole set of problems.
“Often, companies don’t do a good job of marketing their plans to their employee population,” says Keri Higgins-Bigelow, president of LivingHR Inc., a Tampa-based performance management firm. “Essentially, you have to market to them, because things that may be very obvious at the C-suite level aren’t as obvious at ground level, where your employees are interacting with your customers.”
Connecting the work force to corporate goals — and to the plans to achieve those goals — is an active process. First and foremost, the CEO and leadership team must create opportunities for communication and dialogue around the company goals. From there, make sure departmental and divisional leaders are enabled to tie individual goals and departmental goals to those of the company.
If employees have an understanding of how their daily work ties into the profitability of the company, corporate leaders stand a much better chance of motivating them with a sense of purpose.
“Just because it’s printed on a document or on your website doesn’t mean it’s ever read,” Higgins-Bigelow says. “You have to be face to face with your employees and demonstrate to them how your system works. Show them in every meeting, and keep focusing on it, because if it doesn’t become a part of the culture, employees will never latch onto it.”
Words alone are not enough. Employees need adequate tools, resources and empowerment in order to do their work. If they do not have those things available to them, listen to their suggestions regarding what can be done to help them do their jobs better.
“Leadership needs to support the team,” Higgins-Bigelow says. “That is critical. Make sure you have put processes in place for employees to raise concerns about tools that are not meeting their needs. Many times, it’s a matter of starting at the very bottom and asking people what is getting in their way. Conduct surveys and find out what issues are causing disengagement.”
When employees do fall in line with the company’s goals, make sure to take notice.
“Reward the behavior you want to see,” she says. “If you reward behaviors that don’t fall in line with your goals, or ignore behaviors that do fall in line, you can anticipate what you will get. The rewards and recognition programs that you establish can become very powerful engagement tools for your employees when planned and utilized correctly.”