Tag: improve employee engagement

How to Create an Encouraging Workplace Culture

Creating a culture of encouragement and support in your organization can be a challenge. Successful culture isn’t about maintaining positivity 100% of the time. It is more about employees feeling a sense of belonging, being part of something and contributing that is valued. They need to feel that they can engage with leadership in a common cause to achieve the organization’s vision and objectives. When employees feel seen and heard, it bolsters confidence to face challenges and improves resilience to overcome setbacks, knowing they are supported.

The pitfalls of positivity

It is not possible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time, group-wide or individually. It is also important to understand that everyone is unique and does not fit a standard mould when it comes to positive thought and action.

Leaders have a responsibility as well as a privilege to ‘set the tone’ in an organization. Encouragement at an individual level is key. When positivity is enforced without focusing on encouragement at an individual level, employees can lose their sense of self-worth and self-belief, leading to potential burn out. Toxic positivity is a leading cause of demotivation among employees. Telling someone to be happy, doesn’t make it a reality. On the other side of the coin, leaders can exert significant positive impact on any event. Employees welcome honest presentation of the facts (even when this might not be comfortable), an inclusive approach to identifying potential solutions and are generally motivated to make an improvement. If your employees are struggling to maintain a natural and balanced sense of positivity in the workplace, it is your role as a leader to discover why this is the case.

Leaders lead… in practice

It can be tempting for leaders in organizations to think that their role is to focus on the future and planning. Of course, this is true… but not at the expense of becoming disconnected from the need to support day to day operational delivery. Employees need the right tools to do the job alongside the encouragement to overcome challenges. It is a key leadership role to make this happen, and, if or where this is not possible, to agree another approach. Pretending the challenge does not exist is not an option. In general, employees want to do a good job. Of course, human error happens but usually when something goes wrong, the reason is a business process that is not fit for purpose, inadequate tools, poor communication or similar. When you face these situations, resist the temptation to place blame and, instead, encourage people to understand what went wrong, why this happened, the impact of the situation, the importance of identifying a solution and how future repetition can be avoided.

Every voice matters

Building an encouraging organizational culture starts with listening. This can be scary for leaders who sometimes think there will be an expectation for them to address every issue raised. However, an open and practical approach is generally appreciated “It is so helpful that, with your valuable input, we have now identified a wide variety of issues that need to be addressed. The XYZ team has reviewed the list and conducted a high-level assessment to identify how we can focus our efforts for the best impact. I will share this plan, so you know what we are planning to do and when. Your ongoing input will be critical as we progress to get the best results.”

Employees are often our first point of contact with customers and service users. What they say and do, has a dramatic impact on how the organization is perceived by customers. Because of this proximity to customers, these employees are also the first people to know when something is not working, unfair or causing problems. These ‘eyes and ears on the ground’ are priceless, so grasp the opportunity to tap into this rich seam of knowledge and make employees an integral part of the decision-making process.

When you encourage your employees to speak up and practice listening to what they have to say, you’ll keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. Recognise, affirm, and reward employees for bringing their voices and positive contributions to the table.

On another practical note, there will be a minority of outlandish or even inappropriate requests. Don’t allow these to knock you of course by giving them to much attention or airtime. This is where your judgement as a leader comes into play – humour can be a valuable tool in some (but not all!) situations.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Teams made up of people that think and act the same can be stagnant, uninspiring, and blind. Diversity of thought breeds innovation. What can you do to create more difference of people, background, character, and ideas?
Team building exercises and challenges are a well-established way to simulate the stress of a real crisis and give people the opportunity to bond, trust each other, and begin to trust their ability to get the job done. These kinds of exercises also give you the chance to model the kind of encouraging behaviour that you wish your employees to model – no derision if they make an error and, instead, supportive, and constructive feedback, encouraging them to try again when facing difficulties.

To create real value from this sort of activity, consider two points. First, team building shouldn’t only work horizontally. Vertical integration is pivotal in building the kind of lasting culture that sees strong teams trained to believe in their abilities and achieve greater results for the organization. Marriott’s Spirit to Serve program was a powerful global initiative founded on cross-functional and hierarchy workshops. The second point is to make sure that the team building experience and lessons is taken back into the organization, applied, and developed. Otherwise, these events can become a fond memory with no lasting impact on the organization.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL we believe in the power of encouragement to create a healthy, flourishing and long lasting positive organizational culture. Perhaps you have an aspiration to build the kind of teams and culture proven to improve profitability, retention, and longevity or maybe you are struggling with your current organizational culture. Either way, why not see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL can help you create new and more meaningful ways of engaging with your employees.

Communicating Organizational Values

Organizations are becoming more switched on to the importance of aligning their vision and purpose with their values. A set of clearly defined values can directly contribute to the creation of an inclusive, engaging, and strong organizational culture.

How well these values are understood has a direct impact on employee alignment. And also how well connected your customers and services users feel about your organization’s identity/brand as a whole.

The next hurdle

Defining these values can be a complicated task. We have dived into deeper discussions on how to identify the right values for your organization in previous blogs. The process, however, doesn’t end with a neat list of values. What comes next is the most difficult part. Successfully communicating them to your employees and to your wider audience as a whole.

Building understanding in a consistent and well explained manner is a keystone to developing company culture that supports your purpose and vision. This can be done by aligning everyone with actionable, values-led behaviours to embody while representing your organization.

Values are for living

Values are for living, not laminating. Of course, visual reminders can play a useful role in reinforcing the message around expected behaviours. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that this is the job done. The key is to focus on the specific behaviours you are looking to employ within your organization. For example if one of your stated values is ‘integrity’, you might put energy into ensuring that ‘We treat all of our service users equally.’

The words used as Values are nothing more than a label. They are highly subjective; each person might have a different idea about which behaviours they most readily associate with the words selected to represent the organization. That is why clear communication of the definition of the value word and the kinds of behaviour expected to reflect those values is so important.

The Leadership Shadow

The next important step in the effective communication of values, is also the most critical. People learn by example. Employees’ and customers’ perception is strongly influenced by the way employees in management and leadership roles behave. If the behaviour is in line with the stated values, then the perception of the brand is enhanced. If the behaviour doesn’t reflect the stated values, they will become, at best, confused, and, at worst, disenfranchised.

Anyone in a position of leadership must embody the values of the organization as a matter of personal behaviour. If you have disruption and discomfort in your leadership team around behaving accordingly, they might not be the right people to carry your vision and purpose forward.

Positive reinforcement from leaders will help employees feel supported and encouraged to adopt the right behaviours to best reflect the company’s desired image. Actions do indeed speak far louder than words. A key leadership role is to set the right tone of speech and behaviour for other employees to emulate.

Recognition and reward

Recognition (and sometimes rewards) is important in encouraging people to adopt new behaviours. It is not practical to fire people that don’t immediately fit and replace them with people that do. Change can and does happen, but it takes time, leadership, encouragement and sometimes incentives to change behaviours and perceptions.

When you see employees truly living your desired values, spotlight them with recognition and celebrate this widely to positively reinforce the desired behaviour. Other employees will understand the behaviours that are expected and those that are not accepted. Over time the desirable behaviours become the norm.

But be careful when instituting rewards programs, as they can and often do generate devious behaviours in order to secure a reward. They are great for spotlighting the right desired behaviours in the short term, but don’t have as much of a long-lasting effect as visual ques and learning by example.

SERVICEBRAND

It can be a challenge to identify the kind of organizational culture that would best fit your purpose. Figuring out how to communicate the values effectively and efficiently to everyone can present additional challenges. If you have already started or thinking to start down the path of a values, vision, and purpose assessment of your organization, and want to make sure that they are effectively communicated and embedded, SERVICEBRAND Global can help.

Building Company Culture

An organization’s culture is driven by its values and sense of purpose. It is the driving force behind everything you do. When organizational culture is done well, it can lead to far better performance, not just of employees, but improved relationships with customers, service users and partners as well.

One of the key mistakes organizations make is believing they have a good culture, purely because they say they do. How often have you applied for a job on the basis or belief that the organization’s values, purpose, and culture are a good fit for your own. Only to discover the company culture is superficial and goes no further than the welcome talk and training during the onboarding process.

Changing culture

Cultural change can be challenging, especially when systems and processes are deeply engrained. You would think that toxic culture would be easy to root out and remove from the workplace and customer interactions, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes employees live up to certain parts of the organization’s culture, while holding negative or reductive attitudes towards other parts.

The desire for a cultural shift often comes from a realization that something in the organization isn’t working well. In our experience, time and time again, the situation is caused by a disconnect between the organization’s stated values, purpose and culture and the reality of what is actually happening within the business.

First steps

The first key step in building a strategy to manage long term and successful culture change, is having a sense of where the organization stands right now. This can be tricky, especially if the current systems and processes in place are causing toxic behaviours in the workplace. This could look like employees lying on feedback surveys for fear of repercussions, or customers being incentivised with deals or gifts to give feedback that paints a false picture of how well the business is doing.

In the very worst cases, cultures of fear scare employees into cheating and lying about the quotas they have to fill. This is why fear is seldom a good motivator of organizational culture. You’ll get told what you want to hear, but your finances will always show the truth of it in the end, and you’ll waste years not improving because of a lack of awareness to the damaging practises going on beneath the surface.

Anonymous reporting, feedback surveys and storytelling are great ways to get true and honest feedback about the current state of company culture.

Values

At its heart your company’s culture is a reflection of your values. All of our unique human behaviours and habits are informed by our values. If you value being of service to others, habits will form that see you being of service in functional and useful ways. If you value continuous learning, adaptability, or exploration, you are more likely to create a habitual way of being that helps you fulfil these values.

Passing on our values to others is not easy, that is why it is important to understand your organization’s values in a clear and easily communicable way. This will help you find people that already align in many ways with your culture. Forcing someone to adopt a culture that is foreign to them is doable but takes a lot of work. It is far easy to know where you stand and then find people that align with that purpose.

What next?

Once you know where you are, you can create a plan to take you to where you want to be. Whether that is to improve or overhaul organisational culture, elevate the ideals of the business, or create an environment that enables innovation and service to the customers and service users to flourish beyond merely making money.

Inclusion

People who don’t feel included are far less likely to work with the processes and guidelines. Make sure to include the people that work with and for you in the conversations on culture. Not only them, but your customers as well. People are far more likely to be emotionally invested in a product or service when they feel valued and heard by the leaders of the organization.

Having customers and employees shine an honest light on the realities of company culture can be a challenging experience. Without constant diligence and attention, you can find yourself to have drifted far from the course you originally set out. While this can feel confronting, it is important to be open and honest and trust that with the right adjustments you can realign your organisational culture to properly reflect your purpose and values.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

If you are struggling with an aspect of company culture, SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL is well-positioned to help you identify your current culture, its strengths, and weaknesses. We take abstract and challenging topics out of the conceptual realm and apply them to real and dramatic effective within your organization. Get in touch today to see how SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL might help elevate your company culture, realign it, and develop new strategies to build your overall business health.

Learning in the Values Economy

The world is changed, and the way we live and work is changing with it. The time when a fixed set of skills could guarantee consistent employment is almost over. The new skills currency is in our ability to learn and adapt to a constantly shifting and an ever-evolving working environment.

When things can change at a moments notice, those people that are the most adaptive and actively engaged learners are most likely to not only retain their employment but thrive in the kind of environment that puts positive pressure on their abilities and challenges their growth.

But this is not just limited to technical or specialist knowledge, how well a person can understand a company’s values and purpose, and then align with them, while maintaining their own fresh and unique perspective, will also serve as a determining factor for how well they fit in at that organisation.

Learning to learn

Career patterns are diversifying rapidly, as long-term positions are replaced by automation or refusal to pay a living wage. As a result our career paths take a much more winding route to financial security.

Resultant of these rapid changes, people are having to adapt, become more fluid and learn to quickly develop themselves in any direction needed to ensure their security and stability in the workplace.

But again, this is not just about our ability to take in facts, learn functional skills or change to suit any organisation that will hire us. It is about recognising our own inherent abilities and values, so that we may more quickly match ourselves in the direction of growth we naturally seek.

The majority of us have worked a job at some point in our life that we did not like. Outwardly, often no one could tell, but it didn’t leave us feeling valued or fulfilled. When learning to learn, it is important to place your values at the heart of the conversation with yourself, if you don’t, you’ll instead have to stay in a position that forces you to put your own development and growth on the back burner, it is likely your career will stagnant, and you’ll become stuck in that job, or on that economic pathway.

Finding Values role models

Cognitive diversity is important in any organisation, it is what keeps the business fresh and up to date with the culture of the society it rests in. If we want to improve our ability to work with others, we need to look at what the people who share our values or sense of purpose are doing and see what we like and what we feel we could innovate on. It is these collective collaborations that serve to solve any problem facing the organisation, as employees are no longer set to one task, but are challenged to contribute to all aspects of the business, its mission and purpose.

If you are an employee, seek out the people you perceive as successful, and don’t ask them to draw you a map of what they did to get there, but ask them what values they embody and identify with. This will give you a much better blueprint for individual success.

If you are an employer, understand your values and purpose, but create a diverse team of learners that can offer new ideas and perspectives on that purpose. If you don’t champion cognitive diversity, you are preparing yourself to run around in circles always wondering why you organisation isn’t performing at its best and having no one brave enough to tell you the truth.

Challenging purpose

Innovation comes at the boundary of stress and struggle, the more we are pressed, the greater our reaction to alleviate that stress, or find ways of doing things that create less of a struggle. When approaching the values economy, it can be easy to think of alignment as agreement, but this is not always the case.

There is a big difference between disagreement and refinement of values. Employees should serve as whet stones with which to hone and sharpen the quality of the organisation, not destroying existing purpose and values, but challenging them to ensure that they are truly lived, and not just words that pay lip service to a marketing campaign.

When you are able to find people who are active learners, capable of challenging the status quo in healthy and productive ways, it can only have a positive result on organisational identity, longevity and profitably.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND we can help you identify and implement strategies to find people that have an infinite capacity for learning, people who already have a passion for service and authentic values driven behaviour. Moderated by their own sense of purpose and values that will contribute positively to your organisation in a learn it all way, rather than stagnating with a know-it-all mentality.

Building Better Employee Engagement

A recent Mckinsey report highlights why it has never been more important to know how to positively engage employees. When done successfully, enormous previously untapped connection and potential can be uncovered, which leads to greater efficiency, increased motivation and output, alignment and integration across the entire workforce and far better customer satisfaction at the point of use or sale.

The internet and blogosphere is filled to the brim with lists and articles on improving employee engagement or removing the barriers that prevent good engagement in the first place. These are important because of how much of an impact engaged employees have on productivity, profitability, and retention figures.

Missed opportunities

The most critical of opportunities are sometimes missed because organizations fail to take engagement seriously, often having no desire to enhance the employee experience above government mandated baselines.

Employee engagement comes from the employee’s entire experience within the organization, lip services campaigns, a voucher or party once a year, or a prayer room that gets used as a stock room too, do not make for happy and productive employees.

If your organization is spending time trying to copy and apply generic fixes from a list, they are unlikely to deliver positive results. Nice one-off initiatives and job perks are not substitutes for a healthy and purposeful working environment and experience.

Employee Perspective

When starting on the engagement journey, it is important to first find out where your employees are underserved. This can require a lot of patience, an open mind, and an understanding attitude. It is not giving your employees everything their hearts desire; you still have an organization to run! It is about not wasting time or resources on benefits that employees haven’t asked for, that might feel condescending or belittling.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes when you talk to them about how the organization could better serve them. Be respectful and show that you are open to connection, collaboration and including everyone in the journey. Employees that feel heard are twice as likely to engage with the organization in a positive way. It is those positive connections that keep the business cycle healthy, productive, and profitable.

Organizational Values

Just as important as knowing where employees stand, is for them to know where you stand. Having clear and communicable values is pivotal in driving engagement with your colleagues. When people are clear about where you stand, it is a lot easy for them to stand with you. When their values align with those of the business, deeper more purposeful work is undertaken, that creates a much more positive and strong organizational culture.

This kind of alignment is fantastic for your service users, customers, and clients as well. When employees are engaged and aligned with the values of the business, they exude those values to the customers. In turn, this builds your brand image in a positive way in the minds and hearts of your target demographic. When customers feel that employees are happy and engaged in their organizations, they feel happy too, and this builds trust and life-long brand loyalty.

Breaking down barriers

In order to fully understand engagement, it is wise to consider your own attitude. You could be inadvertently creating more barriers, by making assumptions about the people that work for you.

We believe that the vast majority of people are honest and hard-working., When given a clear mission and set of desired outcomes, they will get on with the job to the best of their ability if they feel valued and have something meaningful to work towards. If you think your employees are lazy, or only there for a paycheck, what does this say about you? Blaming employees for being poorly engaged is like blaming a car for running out of fuel when you didn’t give it any gas. Lack of teamwork, poor relationships with managers and a lack of opportunity for development and grow are all key areas that can act as barriers to effective employee engagement.

A shift in mind set is needed, from “what can I do to force these people to be productive for me or my organization?”, to “what systems and processes can I put in place to attract and engage the kind of people who are naturally going to do an amazing job?”

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND approach can help you achieve this shift in mindset, by helping you understand your current organizational culture, identify what barriers to employee engagement might exist, and help you to remove them. Our service can help get you on the right track, so that your employees feel heard, valued, and appreciated, which in turn can only increase your productivity, positive brand image and profitability.

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