Engaged employees are excited about work. They contribute their ideas, participate in dialogue, focus on workplace improvement, and feel pride in their accomplishments. They are way beyond punching a time clock. Engaged workplaces are filled with such employees, and it becomes infectious. Even if you are not excited about work, an engaged workplace delivers structured meetings where you contribute ideas and participate in the conversation.
Here are the four key Ingredients -
1. Align Sponsors to Clear Goals: Clear goals are measurable, balanced, realistic, and achievable. In Chapter 2 of Strategic Organizational Alignment (SOA) (and Appendix E of Strategic Engagement Volume I), I discuss distinctions that must be met when identifying workplace goals. Measurable goals create healthy engagement in your workplace. Why? Because goals are to be used as a focusing and filtering devise for all employees.
If your goals are just adjectives with no metrics, then it is nearly impossible to know whether you are achieving them or to use them to focus on the right issues. Lack of clarity about direction leads to power struggles about what to do and increases the odds that a “test of wills” between employees will determine actions. In contrast, clearly defined and understood numeric, measurable goals allow managers and their employees a filter when conflict happens over direction. Effective managers use such clarity to determine direction and make their best guess on how to achieve results.
Set numerically measurable goals based on your best marketing information to establish a clear direction. Be transparent about how you created your numbers and the potential costs of not achieving them. Then broaden your goals to include the work processes that must be improved to reach the bottom-line goals (BLG). Include your employees to ensure you focus on the right processes.
Use a structured dialogue to align your leaders to the goals. Alignment happens through dialogue. Therefore, if you typically e-mail your goals or allow employees outside the legitimate authority structure to build goals by department (such as employees creating a balanced scorecard or conducting strategic planning), then make sure to follow up with dialogue to approve each group’s goals. Each leader must own and understand the goals they are working toward and then methodically involve their employees to achieve those goals (see Chapter 3, Goal Alignment, of Strategic Engagement Volume II).
2. Identify the Right Employees: Once your goals are clear, then determine the appropriate employees to achieve them. For most work team improvement activities, the right employees are obvious. Yet, for any sort of process, project, or problem-solving improvement activity, it is critical to balance the people doing the work with technical experts and managers. Re-read Chapter 9 of SOA to ensure you properly involve all employees to achieve your goals. To transform your organization, you may need to intervene one workgroup at a time until you involve your entire workplace. The process of cascading is explained in all my books (p. 54 of Strategic Engagement: Volume II or p. 205 of SOA). Reference the Sponsor/Agent/Target/Advocate chart in Chapter 6 of SOA for guidance on how to include appropriate employees to resolve specific issues.
3. Use a Structured Activity: A proactive approach is needed to achieve your goal. There are proven activities for almost any issue that ensure action begins immediately. Choose the right one for your particular scenario.
My newly publish book, Strategic Engagement, is a two volume set that outlines eight activities (4 in each volume) and points to many more. They work when done right, guaranteed. Yet, any activity will fail if the systemic setup is not in place for proper support. In my book, for each activity given, I show you what must be in place to ensure results.
4. Follow up Until You Consistently Achieve Results: Beyond systemic setup, follow-through is where many, if not most, fail. Staying focused to achieve results is challenging and requires persistence to ensure your workplace is aligned and working toward goals. (Chapter 10 of SOA outlines how to follow up on tasks.) Personal authority (p. 75 of SOA), the capability to use your personal authority (p. 218 of SOA), diligence, and solid structures (Chapter 8 of SOA) are the keys to successful follow up.
By applying these four key ingredients, you can consistently achieve high-level business results. My books are intended to help you do just that.