Early in my career, I was hired into a position where the division was last in employee engagement, everyone complained about the HR Department, and the organization was failing in a number of metrics.
How did we turn around our reputation despite persistent complaints, increase employee engagement from last to first in the company in 12 months, and improve our metrics overall?
These simple but effective steps work wonders:
1. Acknowledge the Breakdowns
First, you must acknowledge that there have been breakdowns. Denying or trying to explain away problems only occurs that you’re not listening. As a leader, if there are known issues, you want to acknowledge that you’ve heard the complaints and are doing something about it now.
There was no mistaking being last in employee engagement. We let others know we heard them, prioritized the concerns, communicated a plan, set timelines, and followed up consistently on the improvements.
2. Create, Clarify and Communicate The Goals
If goals were easy to define, everyone would do it consistently. The majority of people do not know how to set goals. They set action items, they might set objectives, they are not setting goals.
If you’re turning around your company and your team, you must define goals that enroll others. Enrolling others in goals that are descriptive so that others can see it.
Last in employee engagement? Set a goal to be the Best Place to Work by a defined date. Set monthly and quarterly objectives that move you closer to that goal. Set a metric, in this case the employee satisfaction survey, to determine if you met the goal.
It’s not enough to state the goal once. Communicate the goal and your progress consistently and often. That said, it brings us to the last point.
3. Acknowledge Your Team and The Progress
As you communicate the goals often, remember to celebrate the small wins. Celebrating successes and acknowledging others shows your team that you’re taking a stand to change the status quo.
When one of my executive mentoring clients was tasked with a similar declining reputation in her department, she started to shift the perception by hanging a large banner with the new goal. She engaged her team to create a “wins” display, listing of all of the improvements that were making and accomplished. Her team visually sees a new direction. Visitors to her department can see the ongoing progress. Her communication in leadership meetings addresses each improvement.
While these actions seem simple, with consistency, they transform the environment and others see the progress. Setting and communicating the goals along with a structure to fulfill on your newly stated future, will show that you can powerfully transform any situation.