Ward Alles

4 critical steps to forming a culture of “WE”

By Ward Alles on December 18, 2012

Does it surprise you that 71 percent of American workers rate themselves as disengaged from their jobs? According to Gallup, this disconnection costs corporate America $300 billion in lost productivity. Ouch.

What’s the solution? Engage your employees’ hearts on the job – not just their minds. Make them true, active and proud fans of everything your company has to offer. After all, setting a mission for your organization is one thing, getting the players – at all levels – involved and aligned with that mission is the vital next step.

How do you do that? Here are four steps we took at Core … and the four corresponding results.

1. Start with yourself. Give yourself permission to be emotional, to be heart-driven. Most employees (even engineers and scientists) like to see a little passion out of their leaders. They want to know, “what’s the ‘why?’ behind this company?” “What’s our purpose? Our broader mission besides just making money?” Live it yourself, express it yourself … and they’ll come along with you.

At Core, our purpose IS purpose. We want to align customers and employees around our clients’ brand promises. We want to engage their hearts. I need my employees’ hearts to pursue everybody else’s! We’ve got that in writing so it’s understood on day one, and felt every day after that.[pullquote align=”right”] 71% of American workers rate themselves as disengaged from their jobs. This disconnection costs corporate America $300 billion in lost productivity. [/pullquote]

2. Show you care. Work with individuals one on one to connect them to your company’s “why.” That’s your job. The Institute of HeartMath claims, “caring leaders set off the neural machinery (inside employees) that produces optimal workplace performance.” Want great productivity? Show great care!

As soon as I enlisted key leaders at Core to help bring our “say it. live it.” mantra to life … and then showed them how much I valued their ideas and help, our agency took off. Our employee base and sales have grown by 33% since we became a WE agency.

3. Use every touchpoint with employees to your advantage. Corporate events. Internal newsletters. Job descriptions. Reviews. Goal setting. Social media. PR outreach. Walks/talks down the hall. Connect everything back to your “why” message. Invite employees to add their ideas to yours. People buy into what they help create. They want to contribute. Let them!

This year, with the urging of Angi Krueger, our director of marketing, Core added a complementary internal battle cry “bring it.” to our “say it. live it.” strategy. It was great to see that idea adopted agency-wide at a recent mid-year event. Our employees literally painted the idea to life. That’s understanding, ownership and expression that truly brings a brand to life so it makes your organization stronger. Dave Hanson, senior copywriter at Core, wrote about it last week. See this video for proof.

4) Give ‘em credit. There’s a reason “compensation” ranks no higher than fifth globally as the reason people perform well in their jobs. Employees care more about people and accomplishments than money. They care about knowing they matter to your organization, and understanding their purpose within your organization – their “why” within your organizational “why.” How you define and develop it will align your brand and drive organizational strength.

Core uses Yammer, an internal social network tool, to post employee praise, share things people care about and keep the ideas flowing. Performance and productivity at Core have never been higher. Everyone feels “in the know.” Everyone feels valued. Everyone feels like this is “our” agency.

We’ve got a “WE” culture a-brewing at Core just from following these basic principles. It’s not hard to see it in action for your organization. But it takes time. And lots of personal investment by the leaders of a company. It’s worth it if you want to break out of that 71 percent pool.

Come on in. The other 29 percent pool is fine!

In the spirit of engaging and collaborating … what kind of tips for creating a WE culture do you have for me? I’d love to borrow your heart too!