Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thriving on the challenges of change

How to engage and retain your best employees in difficult times

The fallout from the financial crisis has been loss of face, wealth, homes, jobs, and/or businesses for many people.

What disturbs me is that the financial crisis is not the root problem, the attitudes that caused it are. Greed, lack of accountability, stupid business practices, and poor legislation in some countries are no longer acceptable. In my view they never were.

People engagement is one way to create the appropriate attitudes for the modern world, which must be about sustainable business practice in ways that contribute to the very sustainability of life itself and the planet on which we live.

People engagement is still for many, a buzz word. To thrive on the challenges of change, and there are many challenges at this moment in time, leaders must turn the words into action.

Employee retention is an outcome of engagement and engagement is an outcome of how well we recruit and induct new employees, and then how effective our performance leadership and management system is in enabling ongoing engagement for new and existing employees.

The journey to employee engagement and ultimately retention, begins with making three key intention, feeling, and thinking shifts. These are:

1) a move away from traditional vision, mission and values, to vision become a sparkenation (a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal)

2) mission becoming a cause beyond profit

3) values becoming virtues. Unless values become verbs they are just meaningless words!

I have seen many, and at one time (15 years ago) assisted organisational leaders in the development of vision, mission and value statements. These often ended up on foyer and office walls and in annual reports.

I learned from bitter experience that when stakeholders are not involved in the creation of such statements, there is rarely any ownership of them, and therefore no commitment to turning the words into reality. Many people are now very cynical and skeptical about these kind of statements.

Every organisation has a story to tell. The question to ask is:
Is your story a sparkenation?

Discovering your story requires a meeting of hearts and minds over time until a story emerges that can be distilled into something that inspires and engages all stakeholders, not just employees.

Organisations who have profit as their only goal rarely have an inspiring story to tell. Such organisations are becoming dinosaurs.

The successful modern organisations have people goals (they are sometimes called social enterprises) or they have people, planet, and profit goals. In the for profit sector this latter organisation will be the one who thrives in these difficult times and in the future.

In broad terms the following is a typical picture of employee engagement percentages: 10% are fully engaged, meaning for me, people are bringing everything they are, that one-of-kind person that each of us is, to their work on a consistent basis. 80% are open to being engaged, and 10% are disengaged. I see very few organisations reaching the best practice level of 80% engagement!

Once you have a story that is a sparkenation, which will most likely be heavily linked to your cause beyond profit, you will be able to tell your story with integrity.

You should only recruit people aligned with your story and cause because they are likely to be engaged right from the moment they start employment.

People will soon become disenchanted however, and eventually leave, unless the stated values of the organisation are actually lived, in other words, values are virtues.

A powerful performance leadership and management system is essential to maintain employee engagement. There are three key components of such a system:

1) Documented agreement with employees on their personal and business goals and how they will be accomplished

2) Processes and techniques leaders and managers follow and employees agree with, that appreciate people when they do well, and help them to be accountable when performance is less than agreed it will be

3) Formal performance reviews, held at least every 90 days, that are a celebration of people’s performance as well as a time to adjust goals and plans to achieve them, for the next quarter if required.

Turn your vision into a sparkenation, your mission into a cause beyond profit, your values into virtues, and your performance leadership and management system into an ongoing people engagement enabler, and you will not only thrive in these difficult times, you will remove the key causes of the challenges you face, and, future proof your business.

One of the 58 sparkenations in my Changing What's Normal book and companion online vault released this week is about how to ensure your story is a sparkenation.
Please check out my book here.
You can download the News Release here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community

Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

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