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Connect to the purpose of change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1)

When change sweeps through an organization, it often causes confusion, frustration, and fear. Even when dressed up with fancy words like “transformation” and “innovation,” employees know the end result is one thing: change.

One reason corporate change is uncomfortable is that it requires disconnecting. All change is, in disregard, disconnecting. Change forces us to let go of our old ways of being and our old measures of success.

To successfully navigate a changing workplace, studies show you must stay engaged. In my book The Successful Struggle, I examine several workplace studies on corporate transformation. The studies suggest that remaining engaged during corporate transformation is a key indicator of employee success and happiness.

In this 3-part blog series, I’ll share strategies for staying engaged in your changing workplace, so you can come out on top at the end of the transformation. All of these strategies involve connecting with something, to help fight the disconnection brought on by change.

The first strategy is to connect with the purpose of the change. Human beings are meaning-making machines: we are always asking “why?” We want to know why the change is happening, why it’s important, what it means for our future, and what the outcome might mean for us.

When change occurs in the workplace, however, getting the answers to those questions isn’t always easy. In one of my jobs as a director at a nonprofit organization, we had lost some employees and were shifting around responsibilities. Some departments were taking on new roles, and I was given control of a new income stream. No one told me if the new responsibilities were permanent or temporary, or even trained me on how to accomplish them. I didn’t know what was expected of me, or even why the tasks had shifted in the first place. This left me feeling disconnected from my purpose and challenged my ability to give my new duties proper meaning.

Leaders sometimes discuss the “why” of change around the management table, yet by the time they roll out the change to everyone else, they’ve moved on to talking about “when” and “how.” But for those of us just hearing about the change for the first time, we need to hear the “why” or we’ll never get on board. We won’t understand the purpose of the change, or what the payoff might be.

If you’re stuck in a corporate change and don’t understand the purpose behind the change, you’re bound to feel disconnected. To connect to the purpose of change, try these three things:

  1. Start a Dialogue about the Future. At a staff meeting, ask the leadership team about what the change means. To keep things positive and productive, frame your questions around the company’s future and how the change impacts the future outlook. Asking smart questions and staying positively engaged in the change will make you shine in your manager’s eyes.
  2. List your Opportunities. This change likely brings with it the possibility of growth for you, personally, and not just growth for your company. As you begin to understand where the company is headed in the future, write down ways the change can open up new doors for you.
  3. Make Change Less Personal. Because change is disconnecting, it can sometimes feel like it’s a personal affront to us. But letting the voice in your head tell you that change is personal keeps you from adapting gracefully. Change is bigger than you, so don’t let your mind dwell on how much you’re personally suffering.

Using these three strategies helps you understand the potential payoff of the change, and get behind it. When you reframe change as a challenge with a purpose, you’ll have a much easier time coming out on top!

Check out the second piece of my three-part series on staying engaged during corporate change here.

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyLClark.com

 

Who’s Your OGO?

A paradigm shift is happening in today’s workforce with the balance of power shifting from the employer to the employee. In response to this shifting playing field, employers are starting to register the power of recognition to boost engagement levels and increase productivity among their employees. But we still have a ways to go. According to a recent survey by KRC Research, workers say that an average of 50 days (nearly two months) pass between moments of recognition, while nearly 9 in 10 (87%) middle management employees feel unrecognized by their supervisors. 88% also feel unrecognized by their coworkers. With the shift to an employee-centric workplace, these recognition “droughts” should be a thing of the past. But although a greater emphasis on engagement and recognition has been underway for some time, it still feels as though we’re at the dawning of a new day.

As an Account Executive for an industry leader in the employee engagement space, getting to play a role in helping to bring about this shift is personally rewarding. But let me take a step back and tell you a little about how I ended up here and why the idea of recognition is so personally significant to me.

It’s Fall of 2009, and my soon to be wife, Anne, and I are sitting down for pre-marital counseling before we seal the deal (I know this is a Human Resources blog; but bear with me, I have a point, I promise). Something that has stuck with me since those counseling sessions, besides my wildly understanding, compassionate, and beautiful wife of seven years, is the topic of love languages. I had never given any thought as to what my “love language” might be until I was challenged to do so in those counseling sessions. Lo and behold, mine is “Words of Affirmation”. According to the assessment: Give me a little appreciation and recognition for a job well done and I’m good to go. How delightfully ironic (or perhaps not!) that I now work for a company whose mission it is to enable recognition and employee appreciation to happen anytime, anywhere in the world; and in so doing, change the way the world works.

Given my penchant for learning and a desire to know as much about the field of employee recognition as possible, it’s no surprise I was drawn to a book titled O Great One!, A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition. “O Great One,” or OGO for short, was a nickname coined by the book’s author, David Novak, who: “Thought being called Grandpa, Poppy (or any similar title by his grandchildren) made him feel old before his time. Taking a cue from his father-in-law ‘Great Jack,’ he decreed his grandchildren should address him by his new moniker “O Great One” or “OGO” for short.” O Great One! (http://www.ogothebook.com/) is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit.

In the book, Mr. Novak tells how his interest in the idea of recognition grew from a personal experience of his – specifically, a birthday. On this particular birthday, his family gave him a gift in the form of a jar filled with strips of paper with moments of appreciation and expressions of love inscribed on them. This act had such a powerful effect on Novak that it provided the impetus for him to start a movement to attack “the global recognition deficit” – and to write a book, OGO, about the awesome power of recognition.

The importance of timely, frequent recognition is further emphasized within OGO as Novak recounts the experience of “Jeff,” who recognized a problem within his grandfather’s company after taking over as CEO.  The problem was a critical lack of employee recognition. With a few reluctant leaders on his team and skeptical board members, Jeff embarked on a mission to change the way his company works.

Being the former CEO of YUM! Brands (you know… KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), Mr. Novak has a ton a of experience with employee recognition and the importance of making employees feel valued for their work. In leadership roles for many years, he witnessed first hand the tremendous success that comes with aligning employees to company values and business goals. Syntehsizing all of this experience into actionable insights, Novak lays out 10 guiding principles of recognition for employers and individuals alike:

  1. People won’t care about you if you don’t care about them
    You need to show people you care about them before you can expect anything from them.
  1. The best way to show people you care is to listen to them
    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to remember that there’s always someone who knows something we don’t.
  1. A great idea can come from anywhere
    Great ideas are essential to a company’s success, so view everyone as a potential source of inspiration.
  1. Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them
    It is the visibility and velocity of recognition that drives engagement results.
  1. Make recognition a catalyst for results
    What gets recognized gets repeated. Tie recognition to company goals and values.
  1. Make it fun
    Make the recognition moments fun and enjoyable. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously!
  1. Make it personal
    Recognition should be meaningful and should resonate on a personal level.
  1. Recognition is universal
    The power of recognition does not discriminate, and all of us, no matter who we are, love to be recognized and should feel included.
  1. Giving recognition is a privilege
    And the act of giving recognition is its own reward.
  1. Say thank you every chance you get
    Saying “thank you” is free, so let’s start saying it lot more.

This book is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit. It feels great to be recognized and to give recognition. If more organizations focused their efforts on fostering cultures of recognition, both employees and employers stand to benefit in the form of incrased engagement, reduced attrition, and improved customer satisfaction. What I’ve realized after reading this book and working with Achievers and its customers, is that we truly can change the way the world works, one OGO at a time.

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About the Author
Chris Jacobsen
Chris Jacobsen’s passion for sales and HR software began in Southern California where he worked with ADP. He and his wife of seven years moved to Montreal in 2010 and now reside in New York’s Hudson Valley with their 5 yr old daughter and 3 yr old son. Having worked in large and small corporations Chris is keenly aware of the power of recognition and showing appreciation for great work. Outside of helping organizations reimagine how they recognize their employees, Chris enjoys cooking, building couch forts with his kids, and running. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.

 

How to Empower Leaders to Become Engagement Champions

Creating an engaged workforce is critical to business success. Engaged employees positively impact retention, absenteeism, productivity, customer ratings, profitability, and many other business outcomes – as outlined by Gallup. Sadly, only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged – meaning they are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” And the numbers are even worse beyond our borders, with engagement standing at a mere 13% worldwide! While leading organizations are aware of the problem and are actively seeking solutions, many are not seeing a good return on their engagement investments. As customer training manager at Achievers, I often work with organizations who are excited and committed to improving employee engagement, but they don’t really know where to start. I think part of the problem can be solved by clarifying who’s responsible for improving day-to-day employee engagement.

While I completely agree that HR is responsible for managing many of the programs and practices that impact and measure engagement, we can’t stop there. So who exactly has the greatest potential to influence day-to-day employee engagement in our organizations? Leaders. Leaders at all levels, especially at a senior level, have an obligation and a responsibility to drive employee and business success by becoming engagement champions. It is a commonly accepted business truism that people leave managers, not companies. Managers are the people that employees must interface with on a daily basis and with whom they have their most meaningful and impactful interactions with (both positive and negative). Because of the outsized impact they have on employee engagement, leaders and managers must learn what levers to pull in order to foster engagement on their teams.

It has been found that one of the most effective ways to drive engagement is through recognition. In fact, when asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents to a recent survey replied “give recognition.” But employee recognition is just one piece of the employee engagement puzzle, albeit an extremely important one. What else can leaders do to help them become an engagement champion? Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model highlights five elements that drive employee engagement, and I believe leaders should use this as a guide in their role as engagement champions.

Josh Bersin's Simply Irresistible Organization model

Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model

Employing Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model and embracing employee recognition is a great place to start for leaders hoping to become engagement champions. [Josh presented the Simply Irresistible Organization model at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference back in 2014. You can watch his full presentation here if you’d like to learn more.] But how can organizations help accelerate their leadership’s path to becoming engagement champions? To begin with, they can use the following strategies to coach, develop, and support them on their journey.

Train leaders

Leaders need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to drive employee engagement. Training should focus on why it’s important, how it can benefit them in their roles, and what they can do to improve engagement. This could take the form of short videos, bite-sized eLearning courses, formalized training sessions, intuitive reference materials, or other ways you train leaders. Leverage the expertise of your L&D team and align any training with their initiatives and programs.

Communicate frequently

Since leaders are often busy people, they need to be reminded on a regular basis of practical tips for engaging their team. The model above provides a starting point, but regular communications can help to reinforce what you expect of leaders and the ways in which you are supporting them, including: training, technology and mentorship.

Enable them with simple tools

As Deloitte points out, “people are overwhelmed with the volume and always-on nature of messages, email, information, and work related activities,” so it’s important that engagement tools are easy to use for employees and leaders alike. Leaders need tools to frequently measure engagement, provide actionable insights, and support their engagement efforts.

When considering who to partner with to support your engagement initiatives, there are many to things to consider. First, you need to identify your needs. Many current software solutions focus on only one aspect of employee engagement, such as recognition or pulse surveys. Others, like Achievers, offer a more complete engagement solution. One that enables social and points-based recognition, results-based incentive campaigns, wellness initiatives, innovation programs, pulse surveys, actionable insights, and more.

Next, you should consider what you want the employee, leader, and administrator experience to be with your software solution. The Achievers platform is designed to be an intuitive experience for all users, regardless of what device it’s accessed on. Finally, you should consider only those providers who will be a true partner on your engagement journey. Since its founding in 2002, Achievers has partnered with hundreds of organizations to improve employee engagement and positively impact business results.

By clarifying who’s ultimately responsible for day-to-day employee engagement and empowering leaders to become engagement champions, organizations can create an engaged workforce and see business success. To learn more about how to become an engagement champion, download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About the Author
Mike VickersMike Vickers joined Achievers in January 2014 to lead customer training and education. He has spent over six years designing and implementing learning and performance strategies for organizations of all sizes. Mike is passionate about transforming organizations through effective learning solutions, innovative technology platforms, and modern HR practices. Connect with Mike on Twitter (@MikeVickers) or LinkedIn.