Posted by Paladin on July 26, 2011
Do your employees understand your business strategy and their role in it? If not, how can they be active, engaged and productive members of your corporate team?
Every day, executives are in meetings discussing various aspects of their corporate business strategy—fine-tuning goals, adjusting approaches, addressing challenges. It’s what executives live and breathe every day of their lives.
But what about the rank and file employees? They’re busy doing their jobs. Likely, they are not aware of changes in the global market place in which your company operates. They are probably not aware of how market changes impact the way you do business. They may not fully understand how they contribute to your success, or failure. And most importantly, I wonder if they are fully aware of what your success or failure means to them – the impact it has on their work environment, the benefits they receive, their income, and in fact, whether or not they have a job.
Let me give you an example that I hope clearly illustrates the lack of connection between employee actions and corporate business strategy. I once had a team member I’ll call Spencer (that happens to be my dog’s name).
Spencer was a terrific employee, except when it came to customer service. When Spencer would get a request from a client, either internal or external, he might be helpful, or, depending on his mood, he might be downright surly. If it wasn’t something our department handled, Spencer would just say it wasn’t his job and end the conversation, not making an effort to help customers find the answer.
One day, Spencer and I had a discussion about his job. I asked if he liked working for the company. “Yes,” he said. I asked if he appreciated the opportunities the company afforded for continuing education. Again, he said “yes”. I asked if he liked his benefits and the annual bonus. His answer was, “of course.”
Then, I explained that the only reason he had a job with nice benefits, a bonus and the opportunity for continuing education, etc. was because of the money customers spent with our company, rather than with a competitor. I also explained how an unpleasant or unhelpful phone conversation or email exchange could cost us that customer, which would then reduce the funds available for jobs, benefits, continuing education, bonuses, etc.
Spencer was, as I said earlier, a good employee. He quickly became a great employee. His change in attitude was so dramatic and so positive that everyone noticed, including the CEO.
Every company has employees like Spencer. Effective employee communications can help them understand their role in making your business a success. Importantly, solid employee communications can help them understand why they have a vested interest in that success. A company-wide meeting once or twice a year won’t accomplish that. But a comprehensive, employee communication strategy that creates an ongoing discussion, will.
Virginia V. Mann is an associate of Paladin. She provides clients with Corporate Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs expertise.