Sustained success for any organisation depends first and foremost on its employees. Thus it seems self-evident that the more engaged employees are, the more successful the organisation will be. But this has always been the case, so what has happened to make employee engagement such a hot topic? If you are perhaps wondering why or are sceptical about the subject, perhaps the following explanation and diagram will help you understand.
Any organisation – irrespective of its nature – comes into being because the founders see a need and a means of serving that need. Thus all begins with vision.
As an experienced leader, however, you are aware there is more to it than that. You know only too well that there is also something called the organisational culture, which is a little more difficult to master and control.
This is because culture has its own elements. And while these can be said to largely mirror those of strategy they follow a more emotional path. Briefly, you could say that strategy leads to activity and is shaped by logic, while culture leads to behaviour which can be impelled more by emotions and feelings. Behaviours may therefore be more spontaneous and irrational than activities and so less easy to control and manage.
Activities and behaviours both lead to results, and so, in order to achieve organisational alignment – which you might define as the point where logic and emotions combine most effectively – you have to master both. When you do that is when the results deliver the vision and you have success.
The degree of success, however, depends on your people. Focus too much on the logical path and you will likely fail or fall short of fulfilling your complete vision. Similarly, focus too much on the culture and you risk chaos, which also courts failure. Thus it is really only when you have organisational alignment that you achieve strategic integrity: the point where everyone in the organisation is pulling in the same direction to deliver the defined strategy. And it is only when you have strategic integrity that you have optimum results with the prospect of on-going, sustainable success.
Since your degree of success depends on your people, it naturally follows that you can only achieve strategic integrity when all your employees are engaged. As this requires appealing to both their logic and their emotions, engaging employees puts the phrase “winning employees’ hearts and minds” in a new context.
In fact, this dichotomy between strategy and culture also explains the shift away from command-and-control management.
Historically, hierarchical structures sufficed with the logical approach. The pace of change and degree of increased competition, however, have created an irreversible shift to devolved responsibility and distributed decision making. This demands more engaged employees and hence – since engagement is possibly more about emotions than logic – greater emphasis on the emotional path than ever before.This not only explains why employee engagement is such a hot topic but also why it is imperative that you engage your employees. It also begs the $64,000 question: “How you can better engage your employees?” Clearly it needs to be something that addresses the emotional path more effectively. And I am convinced the innovative Zealise employee ownership model does this. By offering organisations – of any type – the ability to give all employees a stake without any equity and at no cost to either themselves or the organisation, it gives everyone some “skin in the game.” The ultimate in “gamification”, as well as capitalism, this provides all the emotional appeal you need to dramatically change the way you operate, transform results and sustain success.