Employees are investments not expenses and if we do not begin to accept this fact during these times of organizational renewal and reinvention, it will become more and more difficult to strengthen business models and develop the leadership mentality required to reclaim sustainable growth.
It’s time to repair employee trust, rebuild their loyalty, reinvigorate their productivity and awaken their potential. Organizations and their leaders must instill their missions with true believers. The following three realities – which CEOs must solve for quickly – will serve as the impetus to create a strategy for change, so that employees can stop losing ground and organizations can start winning again.
1. Corporate values are only authentic when they allow employees to influence the future.
When organizations attempt to renew their values and reinvent themselves during times of uncertainty, they often hire consultants, survey their leaders about employee satisfaction and retain research firms to obtain customer insights before they make multi-million dollar decisions. This describes the traditional outside-in approach (template) of businesses defining the individual.
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This is an outdated, one-size-fits all approach that no longer carries much weight. As such, organizations must take a more balanced approach that engages their culturally diverse employees to be part of the solution, rather than exacerbate perceptions that they are part of the problem.
When employees are not an integral part of the reinvention process, it doesn’t allow them to take ownership and they begin to disengage. When employees find themselves implementing a strategy they didn’t influence, they don’t fully buy-in to the deployment process. If employees are the ones that are touching the business and are most mindful of the opportunity gaps and the requirements to close these gaps, why do they not have more influence?
It’s because their leaders stopped listening to them and respecting them along the way – as they lost their identity in the process of change that was not supported by a strategy. Employees may do what they are told – but they lose their passion in the process.
2. Employees can only evolve if their organizations evolve.
The business climate has now reached hyper-change management mode as leaders are in search of the right strategy that will help their organization’s evolve. In the meantime, to finance all of the required change and subsequent performance pressures, organizations are measuring every metric possible.
This oftentimes leads down a path where organizations adopt an execution-mindset (sowing opportunities), rather than an innovation mentality (seeing, sowing, growing and sharing opportunities). Organizations and their leaders have become overly metrics-driven and too linear in their thinking. If you disagree, take the following Workplace Serendipity assessment and put your perspectives and ability to evolve to the test (note: less than 1% of leaders have scored over 37).
Hyper-change management mode limits a leader’s line of sight and thus organizations fail to see and seize the opportunities that are right in front of them. Rather than welcome the diverse perspectives of their employees to see, sow, grow and share opportunities – they remain locked in an execution-mindset of sowing that rewards the ability to get things done and in the process significantly limits an employee’s desire to propel innovation and initiative and share their ideas and ideals in their work; this makes it difficult for an organization to evolve. This is why the traditional workplace is not innovative enough.
Organizations that forget how to evolve are unknowingly perpetuating an environment that makes it difficult for their employees to evolve. As such, employees continue to lose out – and so does the organization.
3. Organizations must invest in their employees if they want their employees to invest in them.
When organizations forget how to evolve, it forces employees to find fulfillment in their work through recognition alone – in being able to execute what they are told to do, rather than earning respect from leaders for their ability to challenge the status quo and introduce new ways of doing things.
Few organizations incentivize their employees to think and be constructively disruptive to objectively push their leaders to evolve. Employees want to belong to an organization that holds their leaders (and themselves) accountable to help them discover and maximize their potential. This requires leaders to embrace the unique differences of their employees and their diversity of thought.
Unfortunately, based on research by my organization, less than 20% of leaders ask their employees the following question:
Who are you and what do you believe gives you distinction?
If you believe you embrace diversity of thought, put yourself to the test through this Diversity of Thought assessment (note: less than 1% of leaders have scored over 60).
Whether you are a business owner, division and/or department leader, creating a new strategy that brings everyone’s concerns to the surface will concurrently enable growth and new opportunities for the business. When you are solving for the right things more effectively, everyone believes that they can play a more active role to influence the future together.