A journalist asked my opinion about employee engagement policies in organizations. I answered that daily practices are much more important than just a collection of policies.
I see it first-hand. I’ve been helping leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures for over 25 years. It’s gratifying to help leaders create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. The key? Clear expectations and accountability for both results AND values (how people treat each other at work).
The benefits of aligning practices to an organizational constitution are astounding. Clients tend to see substantial gains – 35-40% or more – in employee engagement, customer service, and results and profits, all within 18 months of implementing my proven process. Culture refinement also prompts some cool conversations.
Why? Daily plans, decisions, and actions by leaders and team members (i.e. daily practices) either create trust and respect, or they don’t. It’s as simple as that.
While it’s helpful for companies to have policies about desired behavior (i.e. respectful treatment of others no matter what), aligning practices – modeled by senior leaders first – to each of those behaviors is what creates inspiration and trust. Policies create awareness. Practice creates trust.
Ask around and I’m sure you’ll hear, “Oh, sure, they have a poster with expected behaviors. But in everyday practice, they ignore what’s on the poster.” I don’t think organizations intentionally craft policies that erode engagement or inspiration, but many policies do just that. Leaders tend to focus on results, metrics, and profit. THEIR bosses are often pushing that agenda. Rarely are there staff meetings to discuss, “How is everyone getting along?” No, meetings go over numbers and tangible results. It’s technically easier to measure. And while it’s important to look at results, I suggest it’s even MORE important to build accountability for values and behavior. If you only focus on results, you’ll create an environment where it’s okay to cut corners, to be a little dishonest, to fudge things, to poach sales, to withhold vital information from colleagues, etc. in order for your results to look acceptable.
To ensure the wrong focus doesn’t happen at YOUR organization, you must be a role model. A champion of workplace inspiration and employee engagement. This is not a passive responsibility. You are going to have to exercise time, intention, energy, coaching, modeling and redirecting — over and over — every day.
This is the better way. Our best bosses created a safe, inspiring work environment by making values as important as results. They gave us clear values expectations as well as clear performance expectations – and held us accountable for both.
How we behave to get desired results is as important as the results themselves, and ironically often affects those results. Take a look at companies where engagement, respect, and inspiration are notable–and you’ll often see that their numbers are just fine as well.