Give People a Reason to Stay – Get Them Engaged by Paul Phillips

With the looming shortage of talent we are facing, smart companies are taking action now. I feel the key actions are:

  • Keeping the good people you already have,
  • Having the good people perform, and
  • Recruiting well – finding the right people to meet your current and future needs.

One of the significant factors raised by Ken Blanchard in his book Gung Ho was worthwhile work. This fits in very logically with the process of planning.

A useful process to follow for planning is as follow.

* Vision – Where do we want to be?
* Situation Analysis – Where are we now?
* Objectives – What do we need to achieve to fill the gap?
* Strategies – Broadly, how do we do this?
* Plans – What steps do we need to take to make it happen?

While most businesses have worked through some, or all, of the above steps the communication of the content is often still contained in the CEO’s head and at best given out only when requested.

People like to know where they are going and how they fit into the big picture. This doesn’t mean everybody needs to know all the details. However, they do need to know enough to ensure that they believe they perform worthwhile work.

If any employee in your business was asked, “What is your company trying to achieve and what two things do you do in your job to help them do it?” what response would they give?

If they really understand what the business is about and their contribution to it they will have no trouble answering and probably contribute far more than those who can’t answer.

Providing this information to them can be done in a number of ways and the best way will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of business, size and geographical locations.

Hearing it from their immediate supervisor is best and this can always be complemented by talks from more senior people, newsletters, memos and other ways of passing on information.

We should also be aware of the other ways we communicate to our staff: not just what we say but also what we do. We need to think about the message our systems support and our leaders give. For example, do we say our strategy is to empower each staff member to make prompt decisions to help our customers, but our systems are designed in such a way that employees have to follow long and complex procedures to gain authority for their customer response?

Do we say our objectives are based on quality production and delivery but our leaders only ever acknowledge the sales staff not the production or distribution staff?

The vision is something that should be conveyed to everyone. This can help them see what they are working towards. The aim should be to generate as much commitment and passion as possible.

The current situation should also be described to all people so they understand what the challenge is. People will rise to a challenge if they think it is their challenge.

Objectives and strategies can be broken down so they are meaningful to the particular workgroups and so they can see the linkage with their work.

Plans can link directly with their work so they can answer the question about what exactly they are doing to move the business towards its vision.

With this understanding and linkage, we increase the chances of having our people engaged and passionate about what they do and hence increase the chances of having them stay and perform.

About the Author
Paul Phillips is a Director of Horizon Management Group; a specialist human resource management consulting firm. He has over 30 years experience in HR and, while based in Australia, has worked in a number of overseas locations.

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