In today’s highly competitive talent marketplace, employers are searching for ways to reduce employee turnover, raise employee engagement, and maximize return on human capital investment. Building and fostering an aligned and purposeful workforce is a sure way to optimize, energize, and retain your best people.
Many people say they feel disconnected and apathetic about their jobs. Feeling a strong connection with the mission and vision of a company is one of the top drivers of employee engagement, and employers 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 towards 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 several key things very well:
These are the cornerstones to creating company-wide alignment that boosts engagement, morale, and overall success.
One: 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. According to employee engagement research, 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.
Two: 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.
Three: 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 — such as individualized emails, the company intranet, daily “from the desk of CEO” thoughts, weekly CEO talks, or monthly town hall meetings and newsletters.
Four: 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.
Five: Build trust through open communication and clarity. One of the most important components necessary to nurture and grow workforce alignment is for leadership to be strongly trusted — 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 renegotiates 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.
Guest post by Magi Graziano, CEO of Conscious Hiring and Development. Magi is a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert, and author of The Wealth of Talent. ThinkHR customers can watch her free webinar, Maximize Your HR Leadership Effectiveness, by logging into Comply.