Having talked with many clients, colleagues and associates, there always seems to be the feeling that there is more to do for the business moving forward. The same stories keep getting told in emails, conference rooms and even board rooms: ”We need some new ideas to grow the business.” My feeling on this type of discussion is that the same people are having the discussion and trying to come up ways to implement the same old ideas. In the end, when the first of the year rolls around, the excitement by leadership and management to “try again” gets quickly derailed because of lack of employee engagement in the ranks below.
There are two key factors when leaders and organizations are trying to create organic growth. To me, true organic growth stems from a high level of Emotional Engagement by the employees and a High Level of Value in the terms of a Value Proposition derived by the employs. Like customers, consumers and the marketplace, employees need to see what is in it for them to help realize the targeted outcomes. In fact, the type of opportunity posed to the employees doesn’t matter. Their engagement has to seem purposeful, respected and valued by leadership.
When the Employee Value Proposition is perceived as low by the employees–meaning little or no value to them–the level of emotional engagement is itself in the same space. When we are operating in this space, it is typical that leaders and organizations have taken into account very little of the thoughts and ideas of the organization as a whole. The ideas, direction and edicts are purely top down driven and most likely are the ideas the are fundamentally below the surface of the organization such as creating new data models to track work time, eliminating certain work benefits such as remote offices, and instilling policies such as curbing the use of social media at work. In its origination, ideas such as these have the highest of positive intention to help right the business in some fashion, and in the end will have a negative impact on the employees.
There are changes that can be made the will increase the level of emotional engagement with the organization and create quick wins with employees as a whole. Whenever an organization makes a prompt physical change–updated technology, moving to business casual/casual work days, or even offering free coffee–there is a quick connection to the newness. However, I see these as short term wins and will not provide a path to the changes that are needed to grow the business. These type of hygienic factors are great for boosting morale, and in the end fall short on the overall value to employees because these are typically things that are expected because they are probably done elsewhere in the industry. Additionally, when compensation factors are changed for the better you are prolonging any issues that may be present. According to Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he states that money is the least pressing factor in motivating others.
Often we find ourselves going back to the well and pulling up some great ideas from the past that might not have been executed well. The birth of the idea had created an uptick in short term results and somehow had fallen off the radar screen. There may have been high values in executing seen by the employees, however their connection and engagement with the ideas had fallen off. Most of the time the intentions are to manage and drive the process to seeing the end results, and as time passed more pressing issues arose that took focus and emphasis away from the process of achieving results and back to managing the daily grind of the business. These type of ideas lack leadership, direction and often a clear vision for a beginning, middle and what success looks like.
Creating opportunities for high Emotional Engagement and High Value Proposition for the employees is not a simple undertaking. It takes true understanding of the capabilities, skills, needs, wants, and unarticulated beliefs of your employees. Striving for true, vested employee engagement requires the wherewithal to recognize that it happens over time. It is a slow burn that includes new ideas coming from the employees that are needed to impact long term growth and strategies for individuals and teams to have a say in how the growth of the organization is achieved and maintained.
The idea of organic growth is rooted in the process of accessing the skills, intelligence and expertise within the organization to make it happen. Creating an engagement process is the first step in including the entire organization. Capitalize on the potential that resides in your business to create growth in 2015.
The following 4 Quadrant Chart Displays my thinking as it relates to the intersection of Emotional Engagement and Employee Value Proposition.