The facts. A recent Gallup poll showed that companies with high employee engagement outperform other companies by 22% in profitability and 21% in productivity. Not only that, but they also see significantly lower turnover (65%), absenteeism (37%), and quality defects (41%) than competing companies.
Why is this? Because engaged employees are Energized employees!
Let me start out by saying that Energizing Culture is my absolute favorite topic. The change that results from Energizing initiatives is tangible (exemplified by the stats above), and witnessing the shift that comes with employee engagement is the reason that I am a Chief Energizing Officer.
Ironically, part of what helps energize a culture is helping people understand the natural negative biases we all have, so that we can counteract them to create an engaged culture.
The Us vs. Them Bias
Even though we are all one company, there is a natural bias that occurs in most organizations, pitting one department or group against another. Marketing versus production, sales against shipping, the list goes on. Whether competing for resources, time, or money, this type of rivalry isn’t healthy for creating a collaborative culture.
Who wins when your employees compete against each other? Your competition!
The Negativity Bias (and Loss Aversion Bias)
So often we see employees who fear change, when in reality it is the fear of uncertainty. Especially if the change is not communicated adequately, employees may wonder, “Why are we making this change? What negative actions will the change bring? How will it change what I currently enjoy about my job?” If we help employees understand these different dynamics, they will be more engaged and can use their knowledge to instead build bridges between teams.
Engaging your culture starts with simple tools, and it’s easier than you think! Try these four practical, yet effective ideas:
Celebrate the heroes. Institute employee recognition, not only by managers, but among colleagues as well. Try printing your company’s core values (or valued team behaviors) on index cards, and handing them out to the team. Then when they see a colleague excelling at one of those values, encourage them to circle the value on the card, write a bit about what they saw, and give it to the employee.
Then at your weekly staff meeting or some other public forum, take a moment to recognize employees who exemplify company values and briefly share these short stories with the team. Afterward, keep these examples visible by creating a Hero Wall where these cards can be posted and seen throughout the year.
This will cultivate your team’s ability to focus on what doeswork. And having recognition from all directions is more effective than the traditional parental model of the leaders motivating the team by themselves. Use peer pressure positively. Give your team the tools and encouragement to help energize one another!
Get team input. If you want people to be energized, get them involved with decision-making. I’m not talking about creating pure consensus around every idea. That just bogs down progress. Instead come up with a clear system that helps people feel like their voices are being heard, but still gives management the authority to make clear and quick decisions. Make sure to follow-up and tell them what ideas are being used, and why they were chosen over other ideas. It helps to start with concepts that are easy to implement, so that people can quickly see you’re serious about their input… before their negativity bias tells them you don’t care about their ideas.
Get rid of rotten apples. Even if a person is the world’s best at performing the duties of a job, they can still be toxic to the culture. If you have employees who are gossiping, putting others down, and constantly on a negative bent about the company, address that behavior with them and give them an improvement plan and timeline. If they don’t improve, help them realize why they don’t fit, and let them go. Ultimately, this type of pruning will help the rest of team feel better and engage more. Comparing an employee’s value to the cost of their bringing others down helps you see that you are likely losing value over all.
Look for what’s right. As a leader, make it a goal to tell at least one person per week what they are doing right. It is easy for leaders to identify what is wrong and what needs to be fixed in an organization, and while this is a necessary part of leadership, it can keep you in a negative mindset. You would be surprised at the transformation that you will have personally as a leader by just looking for what is going right. This action helps leaders become more balanced and more realistic about the team—seeing both the positives and negatives.
Want to Energize your culture? Contact Bob (firstname.lastname@example.org) to do a culture evaluation. You’ll receive ideas to talk about your culture and jumpstart moving things in the right direction.