Stage 6, Strategic, offers a whole new level of growth opportunity for a CEO. They are no longer a large fish in a small ocean. They are now on the radar of larger competitors and the strategic vision of the CEO must include upping their game as the company struggles to extend their reach and market impact.
My Stage 6 book, Fostering Happy Employees: How to Ensure Staff Alignment and Engagement with 96 – 160 Employees, forces a CEO to think bigger, broader, all the while making sure that the culture they have created is alive and well.
We are all well aware of the Gallup Studies on employee engagement. As of today, 34% of employees are engaged, leaving 66% of those employees somewhere between disengaged and actively disengaged. Let’s take a Stage 6 company with 120 employees. Instead of dealing with this percentage, break this study down into real numbers for your CEOs. This company would have only 41 engaged employees and 59 not engaged. Those not engaged are costing this company hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in lost productivity.
I make the point in my Stage 6 book that on any given day, a CEO will have people who will be unhappy. They will have a falling out with a co-worker, a client will shred their self-confidence in a fifteen minute phone call, they will find out their spouse is leaving them, they lose a loved one, they will make a huge mistake and know their manager will be livid, their dog ran away. Life WILL impact your employees and they will struggle to balance life practicalities with work productivity. They’ll want to share their unhappiness with others during work hours. They’ll sulk in their cubicles. They’ll take longer breaks or longer lunches. They may not show up at all.
People are human beings first. They are employees, husbands, wives, parents, partners, sisters and brothers second, and that’s a challenge for anyone who has ever managed people. Managers simply want people to do their jobs but the cry for work/life balance (today, more than ever) echoes through large and small enterprises.
Studies show that great leaders move us, and great managers create environments where people want to be. Thousands of books have been written about employee engagement and leadership. I don’t believe that engaging employees and making people happy has to be that hard.
In my book, I provide 7 GUARANTEED steps that will help a leader foster happy employees. Many of these I practiced myself as the COO of the marketing communications company I ran. Others I learned from experts like John Maxwell and other experts.
STEP #1: CREATE A STRONG SENSE OF PURPOSE.
What does your company stand for? Why are you in business? What is your vision, your mission? Don’t lose sight of your foundation because of the chaos that comes with growth. You have to find a way to explain why you are in business to attract and retain exceptional employees. People gravitate toward a belief in something bigger than themselves. They want to be part of something that has meaning.
STEP #2: COMMIT TO A SET OF VALUES THAT GUIDE BEHAVIORS. CREATE A CULTURE THAT IS COMMITTED TO THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE.
The best time to articulate your company values is back in Stage 1 when you first started out. Values are the lasting beliefs or ideals shared by your team members about what behaviors and attitudes are desirable or undesirable. Values influence a person’s engagement with and commitment to the company.
STEP #3: CLARIFY OUTCOMES FOR EACH POSITION TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE MEANING IN THEIR JOBS.
Do your employees understand exactly how and where they contribute to your company at the end of each day? Think about the conversation a manager could have with their direct reports if job responsibilities were put into tangible outcomes each person had a hand in creating. The reality is this. There is meaning in every job. So, create a culture in which employees have a hand in uncovering that meaning rather than having activities and job duties shoved down their throats.
STEP #4: CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR EMPLOYEES TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER.
Think about it. You hired a bunch of people who are skilled in various different areas. You threw them together to cope with all kinds of situations and challenges, and then you’re surprised when conflict erupts. It’s hard to form good relationships in life. It’s even harder to do so at work. It’s not enough to learn about each other’s unique skills and talents. People tend to build a deeper trust and respect when they get to know each other outside of the work environment.
STEP #5: START CREATING OPPORTUNITY FOR DIALOGUE.
We know managing people isn’t a program, a process or a procedure. It’s one authentic interaction after another. It’s being truly curious about how a person feels, what that person perceives as the truth and why they do what they do. The dialogue between a manager and an employee is a critical conversation that should occur weekly, and no less than every other week. People need feedback! They want to know how they are doing. Opening a dialogue that is centered on what the employee needs will uncover both the successes and the strains.
STEP #6: TEACH PEOPLE HOW THEIR JOB, HOW WHAT THEY DO EVERY DAY, IMPACTS THE COMPANY’S BOTTOM LINE BY SETTING AND MANAGING TO CLEAR EXPECTATIONS.
When people equate their job and what they do every day to improving profitability, you create a culture that is always on the lookout to reduce costs and improve the bottom line. Performance indicators are built from the bottom up, not the top down. Real conversations about improvement occur willingly. They simply need to connect the dots between their job performance and the company’s financial performance. We need to take the mystery out of financials and help our employees get excited about uncovering their own profit-building activities.
STEP #7: BECOME A COMPANY OF ACTIVE LISTENERS.
I believe 90% of the problems that occur in a company (or in any relationship) can be directly attributed to a communication misfire. That misfire happens when people assume they sent a message and don’t check to see how it was received. It happens when people avoid difficult conversations and allow emotions to rule the day. The art of active listening is an unappreciated and underused communication skill, and I believe most CEOs know this. So, how about taking a proactive approach to active listening and teach every single person in your organization to do the same? Become the champion of improved communications.
Each of my stage of growth books identifies the five critical challenges a CEO faces as he/she grows their organization. We have the knowledge and the model that will absolutely provide our CEOs with the insight they need to not only manage their growth but define it and then communicate it to the entire organization. The Stages of Growth X-Ray and Zeroing in on Your Company’s Profit Zone will improve an organization’s understanding of growth, improve engagement, increase performance and ultimately improve their bottom line.
What can you do today to help your CEOs increase engagement?
Your success. My passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!