Engaging your employees in your vision

By Linda Klingman

Linda Klingman, owns HR Coastal, a Lowcountry company specializing in HR issues for small business. 

Every business needs a vision statement, a clear picture of what you want to look like in a few years. Vision comes from the heart and paints a specific picture of what your business can be.

Once you create your vision, coach others to see where they fit. Ask your managers for feedback about your vision statement and incorporate their suggestions to get their buy-in. Share your vision with all employees so they understand where they fit, as well. 

Frame your vision statement and hang it where employees can see it daily. It is and will be everybody’s reference point for years to come. Incorporate your vision into daily conversation. Share it with new employees. The vision conversation should continue. 

Keeping employees involved in your vision is called employee engagement, the level of commitment and connection to your business. It drives business success, promotes employee retention, fosters customer loyalty, and improves company performance and value. 

Why is employee engagement important? It creates a better work culture, reduces staff turnover, increases productivity, builds better relationships, and affects your business’ profits. Yes, engagement is important!

Gallup offers a twelve-question survey that differentiates between employees who are “actively engaged” (loyal and productive), “not engaged” (average performers) and “actively disengaged” (ROAD warriors, or “retired on active duty”). While not everyone is likely to be actively engaged, you certainly don’t want ROAD warriors to cause a toxic environment.

So how can you encourage your employees to be actively engaged? Some answers are simple. Mentor, reward initiative, look after employees’ wellbeing, and continually share your vision. Vision and engagement don’t happen overnight. They take time and awareness. 

Here are some ideas for keeping your vision in the forefront:

  • Hold monthly “town halls” to discuss what is going on in the company and the industry.
  • Invite employee focus groups to tell you what is going well and what needs to change.
  • Encourage everyone to send e-cards showing appreciation for other’s contributions.
  • Share news that would interest your workforce.
  • Ask fun questions like “What is your guilty pleasure?” or “What did you want to be when you were growing up?” and share the information. Include those who aren’t fully engaged. Showing the lighter side of life might improve an attitude.

Engaged employees are optimistic, team-oriented, and go above and beyond expectations. They are solution-oriented, selfless, committed to learning, share credit, and accept blame. They believe the vision statement and trust you to set the right course to success. Conversely, disengaged workers are pessimistic, self-centered, complain a lot, and have higher absenteeism; they focus on themselves and money, and accept credit but pass on blame. ROAD employees feel little connection to their jobs. They do the bare minimum while watching the clock, unwilling to participate in social events or associate with peers. They may resent their jobs, gripe to co-workers, and destroy morale.

Try to support all your employees. Commit to making your business a great place to work and ensure that employees understand how they fit into your future plans. Recognize that people are your most important resource. Invest to make your employees more successful. Isn’t that what the vision and engagement are about?

Also, make sure that everyone has the tools to do their jobs properly and give your managers appropriate authority. Assign managers to larger, more exciting roles occasionally and accelerate their leadership development. If you do these things, you can expect them to share your vision and help you transform your organization.

Finally, engage your employees by asking five questions. 

  • How would you like to grow within this organization? 
  • Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job? 
  • What do you need from me to do your best work? 
  • What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should do? 
  • Are you able to do your best work every day?

Heed their answers and you will have an engaged workforce that drives your vision to company success.

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