Do you know why most local and global organizations fail to meet their targets? It’s because of their disengaged workforce. Organizations all over the world face the challenge of engaging with their employees and yet there are very few who have really tried to address the issue. And even if the HR department devises strategies to engage the workforce, their efforts have little or no impact on engagement levels. Why? It’s because business leaders often show little interest in engaging their employees. Wrapped around their busy schedules, critical meetings, strategy and decision making, leaders have little time to spare to really align talent. And that is the root of their business’s lack of success.
Ask any business leader how they go about their day and they’ll list out things like attending networking sessions, meetings with business associates, strategy meetings, and so on. Will any admit to spending even 15 minutes engaging with their talent? I doubt it. And yet with the escalating pressures of a business world that’s full of disruptions, rapid changes and exponentially evolving technology, there’s so little emphasis given to the people who actually can contribute the most to a business’s success. Its talented employees.
In my view, you could achieve operational excellence, create the most innovative product, boast the largest distribution network, however, all that will account to no success if you don’t align talent to your organization’s purpose, goals, and culture.
I understand there are communication and logistic complexities in every organization. Large organizations with talent all across the world have a hard time engaging and communicating with them. Over time, fulling the disengagement will result in silos, alienation, disenfranchisement, demotivation and of course productivity loss. And then, it’s game over!
Your solution? A leadership mindset that is really committed to connecting with your talent. To really align talent, engage them and motivate them you can’t delegate this critical necessity to your HR function. It has to you, the leader, who’s the catalyst of this change and the true champion of communication. And here’s how you can make it happen.
1. Tea Talks
You’ll often find colleagues who are close go for tea breaks together. They’ll chat up on stuff that’s not work related and just connect over things they share in common. It’s a great way to maintain and fuel a relationship that’s beyond just work. Take the same idea and apply it to people who don’t often interact. At first you could hand pick who you’ll randomly pair with from another function to have tea talks with. Later, you’ll find the system will be self-driven because your employees will start to take the initiative to mingle with someone they haven’t in the past. It’s a great way to break that initial barrier to approach. And what comes out are opportunities to collaborate more, build an understanding and relationship and, of course, have empathetic bonding.
2. Show Them Your Self
Business leaders often, and over time, develop a persona of being unapproachable. It’s not by design, however, when you’re so engrossed with work and hardly have time to meet your talent, the perception that gets created is that you’re never really there. It can be challenging to meet everyone. And while the belief may be that you’re a tough, stiff, rigid and distant leader, the reality could be very easily the opposite. So how do you present yourself to your employees as just a regular person? Broadcast five-minute videos of yourself at least once every two weeks. Show them what you’re up to or what you’ve been thinking? Bring up a challenging issue you’ve been trying to wrap your head around and ask them to forward their suggestions. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate. The simple idea behind these videos is to show your employees the real you so that they are well aware of the type of person that’s leading them (someone approachable and likable).
3. Virtual Town Halls
Town Halls can be a logistic and financial nightmare, yet they are necessary. They create the opportune atmosphere to really align talent and get them charged up. However, bringing everyone together, having a void in your daily operations for a day or two, and of course all the planning that comes with it – it’s a huge burden on organizations. Thankfully you have ways to reduce all that. Platforms like Google’s Business Hangouts, Zoho Meeting, Facebook Workforce and 6connex enable you to have town halls (similar to the concept of webinars) for your internal audience. You can broadcast your virtual town halls and have your employees log in to view what all you have to say, view presentations and really understand the direction the organization’s heading in. It’s inexpensive and you can share such communications often. The more frequent you communicate your corporate goals, purpose and objectives the better aligned your talent.
4. Social Gatherings
You know what we do at work? We work. Sure we chat and have lunch together and talk every now and then. However, mostly we’re working. And that’s fine because that’s how your employees’ productivity will be gauged. However, happier employees are more productive. And if everyone’s just working, they aren’t having fun and nor are they happy. Hence, they aren’t very productive. Shake things up by having social gatherings once every week. If your office hours end at 5pm, kick off your social gatherings at 4pm on Fridays. This is the time when no one’s working, they’re off their desks and cubicles and are actually “socializing”. You could serve up light snacks, have games, or maybe even have them give 5 minute presentations on random topics like photography tips or their favorite movies. Nothing strengthens people’s connection more than face-to-face interactions.
5. Social Media
I’ve often found that business leaders avoid or aren’t active on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Maybe they don’t have the time to post updates about themselves, however, if you ask me by staying away from social media leaders are missing a huge opportunity to connect and communicate with their employees. Much like the idea behind sharing videos of yourself, connecting with your employees on social media channels is a great way to communicate, engage and form connections with your employees. Let’s face it, 95% of them are already active on social media platforms, so why are you staying away from them? Leaders like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are actively discussing topics, sharing ideas and concepts and even passing on ideologies on Twitter. What’s stopping you from doing the same? Your employees would love to hear from you.
Regardless of which avenue you take, the digital or traditional way of communicating, it’s imperative that you communicate. As a leader in times of exponential changes, the last thing you want is a group of talented individuals in your organization who are lagging behind because they are unaware, uninformed and disengaged. Communication, and that even frequent communication, can align talent to really strengthen your business’s ability to succeed.