It is accepted that a high performance culture creates the opportunity to develop competitive advantage, and it is widely believed that every employee contributes to culture because each, through their actions, strengthens or weakens it. Growth in the knowledge-based economy has weakened employers’ power, meaning that
… even greater premiums than ever before ride on getting organisational members aligned with the stated organisational values and vision.
Employee engagement is the ability to appeal to the heads, hearts and souls of employees to bring to life a passion for excellence. Engaged employees freely help their organisation to succeed because they feel emotionally connected to its Purpose and Vision. Engaged employees are aligned with the organisation’s direction, projected future and the reason for its existence.
The amount lost for every US$1bn spent on strategic initiatives due to poor performance – 15%
Source: Pulse of the Profession: The High Cost of Low Performance, 2014 Project Management Institute
Whatever their motivation, the employees’ workplace environment can energise them and foster learning and growth. Engaged and aligned employees are involved, enthusiastic and instrumental in what is happening. Disengaged employees, conversely, lose their energy and eventually leave, or -even worse – continue, doing the minimum required to ‘get by’.
Why are engagement and alignment important right now?
Only around a third of UK and US employees say they are engaged (Gallup). And those organisations getting their company employee relations right enjoy competitive benefits; as shown below
Since HR metrics such as employee turnover, absenteeism and engagement are being increasingly valued by investors when assessing organisational worth, employee alignment with the organisation’s purpose, vision and values is mission-critical.
Can employee engagement be created and managed?
Leaders create the conditions in which employees feel motivated and committed to their work, their colleagues and their workplace, by establishing a culture that engenders trust, values alignment, good communication and accountability (organisational culture). And, while engagement needs top level ownership and commitment, some of the best ideas and initiatives often come from frontline employees.
92% of CEOs and 88% of Organisational Strategists believe communications to gain buy-in from those executing the strategy is critical to the success of strategic initiatives.
Source: Strategic Iniatives Study:Adating Corporate Strategy to the Changing Economy, 2010, Forbes Insights
It is not so much what is done; it is about how it is done. Consistency, authenticity and ‘doing the right thing’ provide the appropriate behavioural cues. The Conditions for personal work engagement are:
Without personal engagement, it is unlikely that team or organisation engagement will thrive. Most organisational members need to feel engaged for performance benefits to result.
High performance teams
Put simply, engagement and alignment are performance enablers. Developing a high-performing team culture based on a foundation of trust drives ambitious and expansive outcomes. A high-performing
team is a group of individuals with specific roles, complementary skills and talents – aligned and committed to a common purpose – who consistently exhibit high levels of creativity and collaboration and extraordinary results.
The Primeast Approach
In our experience, leaders can develop an approach which engages their colleagues by helping employees connect with colleagues, managers and the wider organisation. It involves developing a willingness to contribute intellectual effort meaningfully. Drivers of engagement include the creation of meaningful work, opportunities to participate in decision making and effective managerial communication.
We seek to find out the answer to the following employee questions:
What is it that gets me up every morning?
How does my organisation inspire me to even greater efforts?
What would encourage me to talk enthusiastically with friends and family about
What makes my organisation compelling?
And, we also help organisations to understand:
- Why they are in business and how they can survive and thrive in a changing world
- Why people are willing to work with this organisation – as supply-partners, customers or employees
- Why this enterprise is able to service customer needs competitively
- Why our employees are more, or less, engaged?
These questions are important because global competition, seismic value-chain shifts, growth in electronic media and artificial intelligence, and increasing workforce-mobility lead business leaders to consider their enterprise’s fundamental “why”. Doing this enables them to develop a meaningful engagement and alignment strategy.
How can Primeast help?
We work in close partnership with our clients to meet their specific challenges; creating and delivering powerful, customised and ‘real work’ solutions to:
- Align their leaders. This typically includes identifying purpose and building the resulting vision and culture factors; using a number of techniques and frameworks, including PrimeFocus™ and Barrett Values Centre CTT®
- Develop leader quality (see Primeast Leadership Development pages here)
- Build high performance teamworking, using appropriate methods, tools and models; including PrimeFocus™
- Create and deliver appropriate communications strategies
- Introduce progressive strategies for talent development, linking into clients’ existing talent management activities
We do this in an inclusive, stimulating and informative way, giving participants an experiential learning encounter. Delivering blended learning solutions, we usually provide challenging experiences, immersing participants in the subject-matter in an engaging manner.
How does all this really help?
As well as driving substantial positive impacts on business performance, high engagement engenders high customer satisfaction levels because employees transfer their positive feelings into dealings with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Engagement has beneficial effects on employee wellbeing and resilience: being engaged means that individuals are better equipped psychologically to manage unexpected turbulence and are more prepared to cope during times of stress.
How do you know when you’ve got it?
You’ll know you’ve got high levels of engagement and alignment when:
- All team members know what is expected of them
- There is a singular focus on a common organisational purpose
- There is an emotional and psychological commitment from individuals to the team and its work
- Robust conversations resolve shared issues
- Innovation and a learning ethos are just ‘there’
- People understand what is expected of them
- Generate mutual trust and develop winning team behaviours
- Focussing on effective process in support of the desired organisational outcomes
Primeast Client Story; Cultural alignment of new acquisition leads to high performance and profitability for a Global Chemicals business unit
“Primeast catalysed a positive organisational cultural change in an extremely difficult and unique environment that literally transformed our site, starting with the management team.”
– Plant General Manager, Scotland
Our client had recently acquired a high potential but loss-making specialist manufacturing business within a remote, unique working environment. They faced two key challenges; moving from being an R&D SME start-up to becoming a production unit within a multinational corporation; and the local work culture was incompatible with the expectations of the new owners. This created a climate of conflict, friction and frustration.
Primeast worked closely with the GM to turn the plant around. We investigated the challenges and identified cultural entropy of over 40%, indicating serious problems and causing poor productivity. We supported him through process consultation, coaching and leadership facilitation. Deploying employee workshops, management and leadership development interventions and townhall meetings to share the survey findings, garner commitment to new ways of working and support the leadership team through upskilling and restructure.
This sensitively-managed project resulted in teams working together purposefully, with fewer disruptive incidents, greatly reduced reworking, minimal employee absence and little wastage. By the time our assignment finished, targets were met, output doubled and the plant was showing £3m profit with over £30m sales in the order book. Life at the plant improved greatly and only 18 months on, a follow-up survey put the company at the top of their European employee engagement league.
Call us for an informal conversation about how we can support you with the organisation development challenges you face right now:
To find out more about Primeast Organisational Consulting services visit our Organisational Consulting pages here.
If you need individual Leader Development or Leadership Development for the collective capacity of your leadership teams visit our Leadership pages here.