Robin Wooddall-Klein, How to Design Engagement Experiences That Make Employees “Want” Your Strategyeaders must marry up market analytics, organizational strengths and competencies, and make the right investments in order to grow. On top not to forget what it takes to mobilize thousands of employees and make them actually “want” to accept the strategy we have invested so much time, energy and resources to create.
Success is found when leaders work to design experiences to win the hearts and minds of their people. It’s as a simple as that (which I know isn’t always so simple).
How can leaders work to ensure their people become just as passionate and committed to a strategy as the leadership team who has spent months living and breathing it?
We can just tell them what we need and they will do it.
Millennials aren’t going to change their behavior just because you tell them too … and their influence on the workforce is broader than their own generation.
I’m finding that designing engagement around the needs of Millennials ends up working better for all generations of employees. This is because Millennials are changing the nature of the employer- employee relationship. They have grown up in a consumer driven economy and they are bringing all of those behaviors and patterns for what organizations have done to win their buying power into how organizations should win over their hearts and minds in the workplace.
The Truth about Employee Engagement
This infograph about employee engagement summarizes the major trends of the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index research.
Bringing the Five E’s to Life
The most successful organizations will be the ones who apply the principles of experience design (the five E’s) to engaging their people in change – Entice, Enter, Experience, Exit and Extend.
You need to engage them in ways that mirror a buying process. You likely won’t win the hearts and minds of your people with a memo from your CEO announcing the bold new frontier of your strategy. If your organization’s strategy requires additional effort by your people or enhanced levels of productivity or customer engagement, then you need to be active in wooing your people to the strategy and helping them discover that “they want it.”
Here are five tips to consider:
- Tease Interest (Entice them!) – Let your employees know something cool is on the horizon, but don’t spell it all out at once. Give them some time to get interested with a set of “teasers” that entices them and makes the subject interesting … and maybe even fun.
- Create a Conscious Entrance – Instead of expecting people to show up ready for the strategy, welcome and engage people in a way that is personal and demonstrates that they matter. A memo isn’t going to get it done.
- Make Experiencing the Strategy Consumable – Mix the amount of tell and engagement to ensure people are “getting it” and that they want to be a part of it.
- The Exit is Important Too – Think about what you want people to be thinking, saying, feeling as they leave a Strategy Execution Experience (meeting, event, town hall, etc.). Create an exit that is memorable and connects your employees to the strategy. Sometimes this is done with gifts, contests, or personal reflections and sharing that unite a group to a common cause.
- Extend the Experience by Inviting Employees to Add to the Conversation – The best strategy execution is a two-way experience. Leadership provides direction and employees provide feedback and ideas for how to enhance the next steps. Then leaders provide the next step of direction (using some element of the feedback or ideas from the field) and employees weigh in and continue to make plans and actions more relevant and effective. Your employees are much more likely to “buy the strategy” when they feel part of creating it (even if that creation is the smallest tactical idea they can take action on in their daily work to make a difference).
Designing experiences to engage your employees to want your strategy is a meaningful campaign. It isn’t just an event – think of multiple touchpoints with your people during which you consciously try to engage them versus simply telling them.
Use the principles of marketing to get your people to want to understand the content you are offering and to want to contribute to it. This is different than telling people so they will comply with it. Engagement and compliance are different. True engagement captures hearts and minds, and leads to employees giving you their true discretionary effort.
Engaging People to Execute: Think of it as a Process
Jim Haudan, Chief Executive Office at Root, recommends creating a Line of Sight, a clear comprehension of business systems and their link to company strategy.For leaders, this means creating a common systems view – a mental picture that means the same thing to everyone. No one can execute strategy unless they agree on the meaning of the words.
For managers, this means interpreting strategy consistently. Managers must understand the strategy and then translate it in a way that’s relevant to every employee.
For individual contributors, this means understanding organizational and team strategies. Unless people see the connections between company strategy and their role, they rarely take ownership or change behaviors.
Connect Goals of each person and team to overall company goals.
For leaders, this means promoting ownership – owning business goals before their own function’s goals.
For managers, this means coordinating team efforts with corporate goals. Managers must routinely talk about company goals and how team goals support them.
- Most people become managers because they have been star employees. In an orchestra, the head violinist’s job is to be the best violinist possible, but the conductor must draw out the best from every musician. Most managers try to conduct the orchestra by furiously playing their violins.
For individual contributors, this means connecting individual efforts to the strategic goals of the company. People need to know that their contributions make a significant difference.
Develop Capabilities to execute the company strategy at all levels.
For leaders, this means cultivating aligned behaviors. Supporting strategy requires changed behaviors at all levels – especially the top.
For managers, this means enhancing engagement of people and teams. Managers must translate strategy into activities that are relevant to employees.
For individual contributors, this means developing skills. Employees need to develop new abilities that directly support strategy execution.
- Most companies hit a roadblock in getting people to take action in areas that are unfamiliar. The solution is to allow them to practice in a safe environment before they engage in actions that put them personally at risk.
To see how well your company is executing strategy through people, answer “yes” or “no” to these questions:
- Are your people ready, willing, and able to execute your strategies?
- Do leaders share a consistent view and interpretation of the strategy?
- Do leaders put the good of the company ahead of their functions?
- Do the behaviors of the leadership team support the strategy?
- Do managers communicate strategy clearly and consistently?
- Do managers review progress on goals with their people?
- Do managers align their teams’ efforts to the company strategy?
- Does the front line understand the marketplace and the strategy?
- Can the front line connect their contributions to company goals?
- Are opportunities to learn relevant skills available to everyone?
If most of your answers are “yes,” you have many of these steps in your sights.
Now it’s time to more consciously connect and manage them as a process.
Have more thoughts on what works and what doesn’t? Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.