Sunday, January 27, 2019

Being In Great Company





Being in Great Company: Finally Reaching the Elusive Goal of Employee Engagement

Every company worth its salt is trying, or should be trying, to reach 100% employee engagement. If you’ve been a business leader long enough, you know there are no shortages of how-tos for obtaining the elusive goal of employee engagement—even if successful for only a small percentage of the workforce. There are books, classes, seminars, and consultants all offering touchy-feely practices for getting employees to fall in love with their jobs. 

Unfortunately, they don’t work, at least not for the long term. According to Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees in the US are not engaged or actively disengaged at work resulting in an estimated $7 trillion in lost productivity. The antiquated use of annual reviews and performance appraisals still in use today don’t, and cannot, provide the interconnectedness of work and life that employees crave today, and the newer, feel-good BandAid tactics only inflame a stronger desire for something real. 

The 25 years experience I’ve received as a business writer and consultant qualifies me to say that this shilly-shally approach to employee engagement sucks. It simply doesn’t work on a permanent basis. Any positive changes to the workforce in respect to employee engagement hasn’t gone deep enough to impact company culture, nor has it provided any real solutions to the core of the employee where it counts—the heart. 

And what about culture? Are the yoga classes, free afternoon massages, and game rooms really what constitute a company’s culture? I’m certain it helps employees relax and offers the impression that the company does care a little about work-life balances. But a recent Harvard Business Review article titled, “Why Employees Leave Great Cultures,” addresses the issue of companies that espouse to have a great culture, but really only provide window dressings. In fact, for many organizations looking to hire in the current great economy with a shortage of qualified applicants, bragging about culture appears to be the winning tagline. 

Prolific Approach to Employee Engagement
Thankfully someone has provided a breakthrough in achieving the ultimate goal of employee engagement. Louis Carter, founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, has come up with a new approach to employee engagement that addresses the emotional connection employees have with one another, and with supervisors, managers and leaders that truly alters their perception of the workplace. It is a highly effective approach that is generating more fruitful employee experiences and producing greater engagement. 

Generating a disruption of sorts, Carter has provided a revolutionary approach for getting employees— in fact everyone—deeply engaged in the work they perform. In his new book, In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace, Carter shares how it is possible to create a business atmosphere where employees are so deeply engaged that they love performing at their job everyday. 

Carter’s background as an organizational psychologist, an executive coach, author of several books on best practices and organizational leadership, creator of a social networking, on-demand learning and benchmarking tool, with accolades from Human Resources Executive Magazine and others, I figured he was probably offering more in the way of solutions to achieving employee engagement than others have in the past. He has after all provided HR solutions to the C-level of companies like Kimberly Clark, Roche, Shire, the Pentagon, and the United Nations. 

Finally, after all these years and with a glimmer of hope, I had to connect with Mr. Carter to see what is new that others may have missed in the chasing of the dream of having employees who are engaged in their work:

What exactly is it like to be in great company?
You are In Great Company when you experience a spark that lights your desire for peak performance. The spark originates from the deep connection you feel to the people you work with, with your customers, and with your company. It is reaching down to the emotional core of the individual and touching that part of what drives them.

Okay, I’ve heard similar strategies in the past. How do the concepts of In Great Company differ from others who have tried in vain to reach a certain level of connectedness?
In my research for In Great Company, I polled 100 major executives and asked, “What is the one factor you need most from an employer to motivate your job performance?” Nearly 90% answered that the one thing that would motivate them is a feeling of respect. After more research and probing for a more defined definition or reason for respect, and asking executives to define respect for me, the number response is that respect is directly related to a feeling of emotional connectedness. 

But how does one achieve that emotional connectedness? 
You can achieve emotional connectedness by aligning your values with colleagues you work with. By making an effort to collaborate, co-creating a positive future for all involved, everyone begins focusing on achievement while giving respect to one another. When this dynamic is set into motion in the workplace, everyone becomes aligned and willing do whatever it takes to preserve and grow the business together. 

What are some tips you can give for getting this emotional connectedness started in any organization?
There are several I have listed in my book, In Great Company, but I’ll share three with you here. The first one key element for generating emotional connections is to make an effort to align values. This happens when leaders and peers all embrace common values, and everyone holds each other equally accountable. Some everyday practices include things as simple as doing what you say you are going to do or speaking truth instead of avoidance, and more conceptually complicated practices such as living the values and ethics the company espouses. Good leaders know that the people they are leading are watching them. They are watching how you work, how you talk, and if you walk your talk. Honesty is the very first step to aligning values.
The next key element is showing respect. Companies such as Starbucks, SolarCity and Warby Parker, are just a few that practice this concept. Studies show that employees who are respected love their workplace and are more engaged and loyal to the organizations where they work. When employees are treated with respect, they have more confidence, they provide more of themselves to the company, and they reciprocate in kind. 

The third key tip is create and communicate a positive future. Employees are in great company when they work in a environment that communicates positive messages about where the company is now and where it wants to go. People want a reason to get up and go to work other than a paycheck. Because positivity is a cultural contagion, emotional connectedness is achieved when individuals use it in a unified way to move forward together to achieve results. 

I like the concepts you offer, but wonder why so many organizations are not applying these ideas.
There are many organizations that are adapting these concepts to their businesses, and I mention several in the book. But unfortunately, there are still many that believe a salary increase, bonuses, flextime, and other perks are the where they should place their efforts. Of course, some of these things do work, but only temporarily. They don’t offer long-term solutions for obtaining 100 percent employee engagement. They are simply intermediate pacifiers that offer little in the way of emotional connectedness. 

To Be In Great Company
My brief interview with Louis Carter uncovered some great pointers to achieving complete employee engagement. On the surface, many of his ideas appear basic in nature, and that’s probably because we have heard them at one time. For example, I remember as a child learning some of these same principles. But as we mature into adults, we all know how silly it is to think that showing respect for one another, working with a positive attitude, and aligning values for ultimate achievement really is. And that’s where the problem lies….


When we get too big for our child britches, we think we have all the answers and that leadership has to be complicated. Mr. Carter reminds us that to lead well, we must get back to the basics. Being human and working with humans means we must apply the human touch to leadership. If we want to create a great company and have our employees work in great company, it will do us well to heed this advice and apply these concepts. 

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