Try this fun exercise in your next meeting for an AHA! Moment that creates highly engaged employees. Despite the hot weather in most of North America right now, this is a mental health break too:
- Ask each member of your team to pretend that they’re a travel agent. Simply tell your team “I want to go on a vacation and see beautiful sights with my spouse and 2 little ones.” Ask them to write down where they’re going to send you. Do a quick round robin debrief… you’ll probably get a lot of “beach” suggestions.
- Next, tell them that your “2 little ones” are puppies. Where will they send you now? The all-inclusive they had in their mind the first time is definitely out!
- Next, experiment with a few more clarifying qualifications: Tell them you’re a student of architecture (and all of a sudden beautiful cities may take precedence). Tell them your spouse is a proof reader who needs exercise (and all of a sudden reading by the pool is out and hikes in the forest or kayaking on a lake may be front and center).
What’s the purpose of this exercise? Every person likely has their own “vision” of your “vision” for the company, especially if it is the usual “we will be the #1/best at…” type of vision statement. And that disconnect is killing employee engagement because humans measure progress and satisfaction according to milestones. In the absence of meaningful milestones, apathy and lethargy become the norm. Momentum, motivation, any sense of achievement and engagement are lost… often along with good talent. And instead of engaged employees executing impeccably, you get good intentions which dwindle into “well, it doesn’t really matter.”
What’s missing from what you’re doing today is all the extra qualifying information which helps you zero in on a truly clear and powerful vision that everyone completely “gets.”
Mindset Shift for Engaged Employees: Get Everyone on the Same Page Regarding Your Destination
Over a decade ago, I developed the one-page Strategy Alignment Pyramid for my own business and saw remarkable results. I’ve been honing this blueprint for about 12 years with my clients, who’ve experienced tremendous traction because it has two distinct elements that are very different from conventional strategic plans.
- The G.R.O.W.T+H GPS replaces the conventional, generic Vision Statement with what I call a Legendary Outcome (i.e. a vivid image of the exact vacation that you, your puppies, and your spouse will all enjoy). That absolute clarity triggers the power of human engagement to draw the organization towards its goals, instead of trying to push change and progress through the organization. Just like the GPS in your vehicle, it constantly serves as a means to course-correct to align your organization and have everyone excited to reach the destination together.
- The G.R.O.W.T+H Gameplan is the methodology, tool, and process for execution. Let’s go back to the vacation analogy. Depending on your final destination, you may need to get your vehicle ready for a road trip or book airline tickets – who’s accountable for that, and by when? You’ll need to know what to expect at the destination so that you know what to pack. If the hotel or activities you wanted to book are unavailable, you’ll need a plan B, and so on. Most conventional strategic plans include as many as 60 deliverables. The research clearly shows that:
- If you have more than 3 strategic outcomes, you will achieve 0. So get clear on the destination, and trust employees to figure out the details.
- If management plans the detailed steps, there’s no ownership, accountability, or engagement on the part of your staff. It’s like having your mother pack your suitcase instead of making good choices and tradeoffs as you pack your own. And, since no plan survives the first contact, employees don’t know how they can dynamically change and adapt to still move steadily towards the goal through the year. Paralysis sets in, and at the end of the year, good intentions are hard to show on the Income Statement.
The solution is to involve more of your organization up front in coming up with the destination and what’s required to get there. When you do, comprehension, engagement, and accountability across the board are automatically in place. Engaging a larger team in the planning effort is a great way to vet your high-potentials and expose them to senior leadership. When you tap into a much higher percent of the ingenuity and creativity of your organization to trigger entrepreneurial spirit and create more highly engaged employees, I promise you’ll love your destination and reach it more easily.