Employee engagement: sharing your ‘why’

PurposeHappy employees are engaged, motivated and productive, so it makes sense to ensure that your employees are happy and they give their very best at work.

People don’t buy what you do. People buy why you do it. Sharing your organisation’s purpose, why it does what it does, drives positive behaviour. In other words, if your employees believe in what the organisation is doing then they will go the extra mile for you.

In the early 20th century Samuel Pierpont Langley and Orville and Wilbur Wright were trying to figure out powered flight. Samuel Pierpont Langley had everything he needed for success including $50,000 by the US War Department to figure out it out. Orville and Wilbur Wright had none of what we would consider to be the recipe for success, but they were the first to succeed.

What they did have was a belief in what they were doing; they worked hard and went the extra mile. Samuel Pierpont Langley, on the other hand, wanted to be rich, he wanted to be famous; he wanted the result. And when the Wright brothers finally achieved flight, he didn’t say “Well done, let’s see how I can improve on it” he simply gave up.

This story highlights why it is important that your employees share your vision and your purpose.

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It’s all about communication

Your senior leaders might understand the organisation’s vision, but too often staff lower down don’t, because it isn’t communicated to them. So to get your employees onboard with your organisation’s vision and purpose you need to communicate it.

Here are five things you can do to communicate your company’s why:

 

Think about what you are communicating

The Importance Of CommunicationEveryone is an individual; so to get your employees onboard with your organisation’s vision and purpose you need to think about what you are communicating, specifically, what kind of information do your individual employees want to hear.

Some people will be convinced by inspiring speeches by senior managers broadly outlining the vision, while other employees will want to know the hard facts about what you want to achieve before they buy into the vision. Also, some will want just the highlights, the bullet points, others will want detail, and other employees will take information in through graphics and imagery. It’s important to adapt your communications to suit these, and other, groups of your employees to encourage them to buy into your purpose.

 

Talk to your employees

To really get your vision, employees needs to understand how their particular role contributes to achieving that vision. This needs to happen at every level of your organisation.

It’s also easy to get carried away with communicating your vision and forget to ask your employees what they really think. Make sure your employees have a voice and that it is heard at the very top of your organisation. Find out what do your employees think of the company’s vision? How could the path towards that vision be improved? What would make it easier for them to do their job?

 

Measure engagement

The best way to find out if your employees have bought into your organisation’s vision is to measure employee engagement levels. However, you need to focus on the qualitative measures rather than the quantitative measures.

You can get this information by asking employees if they find meaning and purpose in their jobs, do they have the ability to make decisions about their work, does their work make a difference to others? However, it is important to remember that you need to have objective data that you can analyse and use to improve employee engagement and buy-in to your purpose.

 

 

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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