interviews, small group discussions, questionnaires and surveys. However, the key to
reliable feedback is to create an environment that encourages two-way communication, and where people understand that they can be honest and open without fear of
A huge benefit of these activities is the opportunity to identify those individuals
within the company who are already aligned with the new direction. These are people who will serve as banner carriers and examples to their peers. The term we frequently hear in the business press is “change agents.” Finding a group of like-minded
employees who embrace the new direction and are committed to driving it forward
is critical to the success of any change initiative. Even in a hierarchical organization,
the ability to create an informal network of these change agents will drive success.
And these people must represent every department, from HR to R&D, and every
level, from VP to line worker.
revenue. Every employee will have a
clear understanding of the strategy,
the shared values, the goals and the
expectations of him or her as a valued
contributor. All of this will be part of an
overarching communication plan that is
rich in detail and repeated often.
In fact, legendary change guru John
Kaplan tells us “it is very easy for you
not to undercommunicate a little bit,
but to undercommunicate by huge
amounts in a way that will literally, liter-
Where Do You Want to Go?
Notice that there has already been a lot
of work but no discussion of the specific
outcomes—this is by design. The senior
managers probably have a good idea of
the direction that they would like to take
the culture, but it would be premature and
inappropriate to deliver this message without input from all the stakeholders. This is
particularly true for those companies that
are trying to move from a role-based culture to a task-based culture.
It makes no sense to tell people, “We
are going to create an environment of cooperation where every employee is valued
and your input is welcomed,” followed by,
“and this is how you will do it!” The best
way to engage people meaningfully is to
include them early in the process. Leaders
have to be prepared to go into meetings
and say, “I don’t know.” Engaging stakeholders early in the process will mean not
having answers to some of the difficult
questions that emerge from conflicting
agendas. With hard work and commitment, however, a vision and a strategy will
The challenge, then, will be to capture
the vision in such a way that it can be presented in an authentic, transparent form
to every member of the company so that it
says, “This is where we are going, and this
is how we are going to get there together.”
The vision will be codified in the mission,
vision and value statements of the organization. It will be communicated in the
company newsletter, on the intranet, in
regular e-mails, and it will become part of
the daily conversations. It will be evident
in the revised key performance indicators of the company that emphasize food
safety over all else—including short-term
Balancing Employee and
As more companies start to think about better ways of measuring
the energy and motivation of their workforce, the concept of
employee engagement has emerged as a commonly accepted method
for thinking about these issues.
It has been widely reported that organizations that increase their
ratio of engaged employees see a variety of positive outcomes,
including increased profits, improved client interactions, improved
employee retention, increased productivity and increased safety
And as is typical with any new business framework, a constellation
of competing products and consulting groups has coalesced around
employee engagement. However, two groups have emerged as well-accepted leaders in measuring employee engagement. The Gallup
organization with the Q12© survey and The Conference Board with the
Employee Engagement Barometer™ have created valid instruments for
managers who need to evaluate the state of mind of their employees.
The Other Side of the Equation
What I find missing in this conversation regarding the levels
of engagement that employees report is a validated measuring
instrument the organization can apply to its leaders regarding their
attitudes and behaviors. Something like this would provide a useful
mirror for bosses to better understand the impact they have on
those who report to them. Issues that should be evaluated would go
something like this:
their job to the best of their ability.
vs. time off vs. recognition.
know exactly where I feel their strengths and weaknesses lie.
expected of them in their jobs.