I just returned from visiting one of our clients and over the course of our lunch, once all the pleasantries were exhausted, the classic question about employee engagement was dropped on the table like the thud of a lunch tray full of spaghetti hitting the floor. The chief strategy officer asked: "I have pockets of engagement at all levels of the organization, but how do I get the entire workforce to care about our strategy?"
While there isn't a "silver bullet" to resolving this challenge, I've found that the most successful organizations, meaning those with 90% or greater engagement by the workforce around the strategy, all address one common underlying question: What's in it for me?
I bet many of you immediately turn to money as the answer so let's tackle that approach first. Most of us work to earn money and if a carrot is waved in front of us, we'll most likely follow it. For many of your employees, tying salary and bonus to the performance of your organization's strategy could be a great approach. If the organization does well, employees get paid more. For other employees, or in organizations where financial incentives are not allowed, we are forced to get more creative and more disciplined with cascading the strategy to the employee level.
This means as part of a regular employee review process, your teams need to build out their own personal goals and map them to the department or organizational level strategy. Even better still, roll their personal KPI data up to higher level KPIs to create an internal culture of performance measurement. For some organizations, this is a logical extension of their normal performance management, whether that's part of a regular meeting workflow, or something like a Balanced Scorecard.
So while employees are strapping on watches to measure their steps walked or calories consumed and burned in a day, go ahead and do the same with measuring their contribution to the strategy. Employees want to feel connected to the organization and want to do a good job. The moment you operationalize their goals into KPIs that impact the organization's KPIs, you get employees caring about the strategy. By the way, this is the biggest gap the chief strategy officer identified in their process. They were doing employee performance management in complete isolation and not linking it to a common set of objectives and KPIs.
With a lot of our government clients, we find that employees engage in the strategy as soon as they relate to the strategic initiatives. They want their projects to get funded and to be successful. There's no better way for justifying a project than by showing its link to the agency's mission, vision and objectives. Employees then want to prove that their projects are moving the dial on the KPI and justify continued funding.
There are a number of ways to connect employee performance reviews and strategy, including long consulting exercises and hefty slide decks. If you're interested in streamlining the process, the newly launched ESM+Perform software will rapidly link employee goals to enterprise strategy, roll up KPIs, and track performance over time. There no longer is an excuse for your employees not caring about your organization's strategy anymore.