Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Globally, leadership, culture and employee engagement are regarded as the most important drivers for sustainable growth in any organisation.
These may seem like obvious facts, and it is fairly obvious that the business environment is competitive. It is also fairly common knowledge that the employee is responsible for delivering the brand promise and, therefore, sits with the responsibility of generating profits.
Employee Engagement - What's the Fuss?
From a leadership perspective, it is important to focus on task excellence and achieving results. While this is absolutely necessary, it may not be sufficient to keep us at the top of our game. Our focus needs to include a serious consideration for developing people and cultivating relationship excellence to ensure we stay relevant from a leadership and employee engagement perspective.
The challenge that many leaders are facing is not only related to the operational or cognitive culture of the employees and how we do things in the organisation, but also how they relate to them on an emotional level. How we make people feel has a direct impact on our ability to achieve sustainable results.
As leaders, we are responsible for the entire human being and the employees in our care are humans first, employees second. Employees thrive when they are treated with kindness in the workplace because, as social creatures, we need more than just a transactional exchange at work. We have an intrinsic desire to interact, connect, communicate and collaborate. We are wired with emotions and, it is said that all decision making is 30% rational and 70% emotional. It is the emotional side of the decision-making process that creates connected, passionate and engaged customers and also employees.
Although we may have the best intentions when we create and develop strategies, policies and procedures, which are all necessary to drive consistency within brands, it is our culture (how we do things and make people feel) that will impact how these very best thought-out rational processes and strategies are implemented. Peter Drucker understood this principle when he said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. You might have a good product or service, but if you want it to become great, you need highly engaged employees, especially now in the digital age.
Brands and companies are no longer what they say they are, but what others say they are. The customer’s perception is formed by the people representing the organization: Your brand ambassadors. For this reason, organisational culture and levels of employee engagement are becoming lifeline issues within organisations because it is clear that emotionally connected employees simply perform better.
Employees who are highly engaged deliver results with energy, passion and purpose because they engage better with customers, innovate more quickly and execute more reliably. Highly engaged employees represent the ultimate competitive weapon for the future, as employee support is becoming a major currency in organisations striving to be relevant into the future. Successful brands understand that to build a strong corporate brand, you need highly engaged brand ambassadors, employees who are passionate, engaged, committed and authentic.
Are we over-complicating the subject matter of employee engagement and culture? At times I think we are.
Based on my experience, employee engagement is driven by the following key drivers within organisations:
1. Personal identity (self awareness)
2. Corporate identity (culture)
3. Emotional connectedness (sense of belonging)
4. Inspirational leadership in support of a strengths and purpose driven culture within the organisation.
More than this, employee engagement runs the risk of becoming more complicated and time consuming than what is necessary. As a leader, find the balance between the logistics of running the organisation, and also genuinely caring about the individuals that are in your care and make up your all-important brand ambassador team.