Does Employee Engagement Matter?
From our annual employee engagement surveys with nearly 5,000 organizations, we know that engaged workforces outperform their unengaged counterparts. Indeed, employee engagement should very much matter to both business and people leaders who want their business to succeed.
Moving the Engagement Needle
Companies that get the most from employee engagement initiatives have made it an organizational discipline and a strategic priority day-in and day-out. Not just once a year. They view employee engagement as an ongoing initiative that is regularly discussed, evaluated, and incorporated as a systemic part of how work gets done.
If you want higher levels of discretionary effort, advocacy, and employee loyalty, you need to make employee engagement part of your ongoing management and leadership scorecard.
4 Strategies to Move Past Annual Employee Engagement
To continually improve the value of your annual employee engagement efforts throughout the year, here are four strategies to put into regular practice:
1. Link Employee Engagement to Business Results
Share with your workforce the data behind how employee engagement directly affects business outcomes. The context is critical for all employees to understand why engagement is important. Such an understanding will increase their motivation to get involved in the effort.
2. Don’t Hide Your Successes
Your engagement survey will reveal important areas of strength. Highlight these not only to help attract new talent, but also to increase every employees’ level of commitment to making your organization a great place to work. The motivation to keep at it is critical.
3. Don’t Hide Your Challenges
Your engagement survey should also point toward areas where you need more work. Show your employees that you are committed to fixing what’s broken. Employees will appreciate that their voice has been heard and that you are taking concrete steps to improve the situation.
4. Share Feedback and Successes
Engagement survey results should be shared with the workforce, so employees know that their comments – both pro and con – have been seriously reviewed and evaluated. As success stories accrue, share them. Not only is it positive reinforcement of your intent as leaders to improve, but it also suggests ways other teams can:
The Bottom Line
A quality employee engagement survey should provide all the information you need to move the employee engagement needle. Just understand that it will take the full commitment of leadership to make it happen and that commitment will be part of their measure throughout the year.
To learn more about taking annual employee engagement to the next level, download the Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement
Change Is Here to Stay
Despite how difficult it can be to effect change in the workplace and have employees change their mind, we must recognize that few businesses can survive without being able to adapt. Whether it’s from minor changes like reorganizing your team to more major changes like a merger or acquisition, it is natural for employees to resist the new way. Most employees find a change to the status quo uncomfortable or downright threatening.
That is why there is so much change management training and so many have addressed ways to ease and effect organizational change. But it’s helpful to look not only at the macrocosm, but at the microcosm. What happens in the individual employee mind when we face a required change in mindset?
Surprisingly, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have learned that beyond simply changing one’s mind, individuals can be persuaded to accept a completely opposite opinion to what they had once believed. According to research, here are some of the major psychological factors that influence the way we think about things and how employees change their mind:
What stands out is that, regardless of the status quo, we can change both our thinking and our behavior. We simply get used to a new situation and, in doing so, can even change our memory and opinion of what happened. For the most part, humans are preconditioned to get comfortable in situations that we once viewed as negative.
The Bottom Line
The implications of the research on why we change our minds have application in the workplace. Leaders who must introduce change that is initially resisted can find that, once instituted, most employees will adjust to the change and even welcome it. The trick is to shorten the time frame and angst as much as possible.
To learn more about how to create better and faster change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership
Effective Stretch Assignments
We believe that the ability to continuously learn and grow separates the average leaders from the best leaders. And one of the very best ways to continuously develop yourself – or your team —is through effective stretch assignments that increasingly take you out of your comfort zone. In a nutshell, more complex assignments are great way for people to get better.
If you want to become a better skier, ski harder terrain with better skiers. If you want to be a better leader, take on more challenging work and rub shoulders with people who are smarter and more experienced than you.
The Benefits of Effective Stretch Assignments
There are benefits of well-conceived stretch assignments for both the individual and the organization. For an individual, an effective stretch assignment presents a challenge that can launch them toward new heights in their career. For an organization, the right assignment can be a critical step in developing new in-house leaders to fill your talent pipeline.
For the Individual
What are the considerations for the individual who is presented with a challenging new role or project and for what it takes to succeed? The characteristics of an employee who is ready to accept the stretch challenge include:
For the Organization
From the organization’s point of view, what are the benefits of stretch assignments and the factors that work to the company’s advantage? Effective stretch assignments can be a way to test the abilities of candidates in your leadership pipeline while providing career development opportunities – often at a reduced cost.
To give high-potential employees the greatest chance to succeed, let them identify the right opportunities themselves. Their involvement will ensure that the assignment is something they want to commit to. Work with them to define expected results so you can measure the final impact on both the individual employee and the business.
The Bottom Line
When you give high potential leaders a chance to stretch their wings and grow, they have an opportunity to develop exponentially. While they will most likely experience the initial discomfort of having to stretch beyond their current expertise, the potential gains are worth it. Stretch assignments can be career-making for the employee and leader-confirming for the organization.
To learn more about how to develop your next set of leaders, download Surprising Succession Planning Traps to Avoid for HiPo’s
Efficient and Effective Decision Making Cultures Vary
The location at which companies make decisions – centralized decision making or decentralized – matters. Sometimes it makes sense to centralize decision making from a strategic and cultural perspective. Other times it makes sense to decentralize decision making.
Corporate Culture Defined
We define corporate culture as how and why things truly get done. Culture can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave and work. A company’s culture represents what a new employee needs to learn to be “accepted as a member” and what makes the company “feel and act” like itself.
While often invisible to the eye, culture becomes very apparent when people act in ways that misaligned accepted cultural norms. How a company makes decisions can say a lot about its culture.
Decision Making Challenges
Thanks to the growing complexity that most leaders face, not only has the number of decisions that must be made increased, but leaders also report that it is more difficult to cleanly delegate decisions to their subordinates. A recent McKinsey study found that 72% of senior-executives thought bad strategic decisions either were about as frequent as good ones or were the prevailing norm in their organization. It is not easy to have a strong culture if the way you make decisions is flawed.
So how do you know which circumstances should dictate which decisions?
Centralized vs. Decentralized Decisions
When a decision is centralized, it is typically unilaterally mandated by a central, usually high-level, authority. Decentralized decisions are, instead, made at a more local level by frontline employees who are close to whomever will feel the impact. Neither decision making approach is inherently “right”. The choice of which decision making mode is best completely depends upon the situation and your goals.
When Centralized Decision Making Makes Sense
There are four factors to evaluate where a decision needs to be made and these will help you choose the best mode of decision making for the specific situation.
1. When the Impact is High and the Scope is Wide
When a business is faced with big opportunities, issues or threats with potential company-wide impact, it is often best to have your top leaders make the final decision. In this instance, it is important to have policies and procedures in place to help ensure that there is alignment throughout the organization. For example, one client decided that all decisions with an impact of greater than $250,000 needed to be approved by the CEO.
2. When Standards and Uniformity Matter
Every organization needs to operate with some common standards and procedures. It makes little economic sense to have duplication of effort, misalignment, or inequity. One overall authority in areas such as payroll, procurement, legal, quality assurance, and safety can often improve economies of scale with centralized decision making.
3. When the Long-Term and the Greater Good Matters
While decentralized decision making can help speed the decision making process by empowering the frontline, centralized decision making is often required to create longer term thinking for the greater good of all. Whenever there are shared or limited resources (i.e. the need to hit short-term quarterly targets), the self-interests of each stakeholder can advocate for decisions that may be positive in the short term but have negative longer term consequences. For example, one client made their HR function a shared service center which defunded a leadership development program that was essential to building their talent pipeline.
The Cultural Implications of Centralizes Decision Making
If your company needs to make centralized decisions to best execute its strategy, look for strong and decisive leaders, agree upon what decisions need to be mandated versus autonomous, and delineate your decision making criteria when decisions are announced.
The Bottom Line
While effective leaders must be able to delegate decisions to get work done and to empower employees at all levels, certain situations and strategies require centralized decision making. You will likely still need to actively involve key stakeholders in the process to get buy-in and sustainable results, but do not be shy about mandating some key decisions.
To learn more about effective decision making, download 3 Steps to Set Your Team Up to Make Better Decisions
Ineffective Strategies Hinder Growth
Too many leaders settle for strategic growth plans that won’t work. Why? Because they don’t understand the difference between good and bad strategies, their strategic plans are flawed from the beginning.
Strategies that lack an understanding of the key challenges that need to be overcome, have an insufficient focus, or that take an unrealistic approach are just wishful thinking. The best leaders know not to settle or be fooled by a bad strategy – one that does not represent the hard work it takes to design and implement a good strategy.
3 Signs of a Bad Corporate Strategy
A bad strategy is likely to be loaded with slogans and wishful thinking. A bad strategy:
A Good Corporate Strategy
A strategy that can be effectively followed and that can guide an organization toward a successful future has three fundamental elements. A good strategy:
The Bottom Line
Strategic planning is hard work. Make sure that your efforts to craft a strategy are worthwhile. Effective strategies address the difficulties ahead, focus on the few moves that will make a difference, and set up the aligned actions required to succeed.
To learn more about good and bad strategies, download 7 Ways to Stress Test Your Strategy Now
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