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How To Align Leadership and Employee Visions


By Jonathan McClellan | June 11, 2015 | Blog Posts | Engage Employees

There are several drivers of workplace disengagement; among them is the speed at which the business world moves today and the challenges this creates. For any business, it’s difficult to pause mid-flow to ensure central alignment and vision. Take into account that many businesses exist with multiple locations across the United States, if not the globe, and equally distributed workplace engagement becomes a dubious proposal at best.

So, how do national and global organizations ensure alignment between leadership and employees? While leadership must have a clear vision, build confidence, trust and buy-in throughout the organization, the individuals with the greatest opportunity to influence employee engagement are middle managers. These managers oversee daily interactions, are locally on the front lines and have the most direct contact with individual employees.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Hal Gregersen discusses the dangerous “white space,” where, “Leaders, especially senior ones, fail to seek information that makes them uncomfortable or fail to engage with individuals who challenge them. As a result, they miss the opportunity to transform insights at the edge of a company into valuable actions at the core.” To thrive, businesses must encourage communication to ensure their vision aligns with what is best for the company.

Owners of your organization-wide recognition strategy, in particular, should take note. When aligned closely with a clear corporate vision, recognition should provide leaders with concrete evidence that the message has been heard, understood and acted upon. Recognition activity offers a line of sight to where in the organization people are challenging the status quo with innovative breakthroughs and enhancing the overall value chain—providing new opportunities to apply key learnings and insights to the benefit of other lines of business.

Here are a few ways organizations, both big and small in size, can ensure their recognition strategy and execution are clearly aligned with their corporate vision and employee engagement philosophy:

  1. Clear Vision With Executive Buy-in – It all starts at the top. Your executive team needs to solidify a clear vision for the organization that everyone buys into. Then it comes down to purposeful implementation of your total rewards strategy and employee engagement initiatives toward the goals and objectives you’ve laid out. Nothing kills an organization’s vision like lack of buy-in from the broader organization. Executive endorsements, ongoing messaging and active involvement are often the cultural cues employees look for before fully engaging with the vision themselves.
  2. Empower Middle Management – Give your middle management team the tools, training and information they need to share and reinforce that vision with their team. By providing them with clarity, direction and tools, they can be a powerful voice for the organization. They also serve as a pipeline to employees and can provide you with front-line feedback, so you can make adjustments based on lessons learned and ensure ongoing buy-in. Explore opportunities to improve how you can empower your front-line, middle managers to deeply engage employees.
  3. Utilize Open Communication – Your employees also have a vision for where they want the company to go, and where their career fits into that equation. Make sure you communicate your vision in a way that is relevant and personal to them. Be sure they understand how they fit into the big picture, and how much you value their commitment and efforts. Ensuring that your recognition and engagement strategies are flexible enough to cater to localized situations, events and environments, as well as the unique preferences and personalities of your diverse workforce, will help strengthen the connection between your vision and their action.

With the speed and distance that business operates, ensuring alignment of leadership and employee vision is critical to keeping your employees engaged and your business growing. Do you have any additional tips on how to align leadership and employee visions? Comment below or interact with me directly at @JonM_HBC.

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