Making Your Vision and Values Actionable for Employees

iStock_000056231554_MediumIf your company has communicated its vision and values to employees, you’re way ahead of the game. Outlining what the company is trying to achieve and articulating the values intended to guide the business is a huge step.

But just because you’ve shared the words doesn’t mean you’ve finished the job. To truly create alignment between employees actions and the company vision, you need to go further.

The next step is to help employees understand how they, as individuals, can help make that vision a reality. Do they know what part they play? Do they see the connection between what they do every day and the business goals of the company? Do the values seem relevant to them?

One of the best ways to achieve this is through concrete examples. Instead of telling employees what they should do, try showing them what it looks like to live the values and support the vision.

For instance, if you have an internal magazine, incorporate several employee spotlights in each issue. Take three or four real employees and interview them about how they see their job supporting the vision, and how they put the company values to work in their day-to-day work. Include photography, so other employees get to see people like them, in roles like their own, being treated like heroes.

One benefit of this sort of communication is giving recognition. Employees who approach their work with an eye to how it contributes to the overall success of the company certainly deserve all the recognition they can get.

The other benefit, and perhaps the more important one, is modeling the desired behavior for employees throughout the company. When you let employees tell their stories, giving specific examples of times they’ve applied the values in their work, or explaining in down-to-earth terms how they see their work contributing to the vision, it helps other employees get it. It enables them to take the lofty language that is common to company visions and values and apply it to real-world situations.

That’s when the magic happens. When employees make that connection between what they do at work and something bigger than themselves, that’s when you get alignment. When you’ve got alignment between how employees are working and where the company wants to go, you improve on measures that really count. Engagement, productivity, retention, profitability and of course, the bottom line.

Interested in building your alignment? Tribe can help.

 

 

Being The Best In Your Category Or Industry Is A Lot Like Being A Major League Pitcher

Baseball Pic 2I’m in awe of Major League pitchers who can throw the baseball a hundred miles per hour. A few years ago, I was at an expo at a sponsorship event and stepped into a pitching cage to see how fast I could throw a ball. I’m not completely un-athletic. But for me, sport is more about endurance than bat and ball types of things.

After lobbing the ball a few times to get warmed up, I wind up for the real thing. Forty-seven miles per hour. That couldn’t be right. So I wind up and give it everything I’ve got. Forty-six miles per hour. And now I have a newfound respect for major league hurlers.

So how does a major league pitcher make a ball fly at a hundred miles per hour and consistently hit an inches-wide target that’s ninety feet away? First, he practices pitching over and over for years and years. Then coaches and trainers meticulously hone his pitcher’s movements to ensure absolutely perfect form that won’t break down under pressure. Finally, and probably most importantly, the pitcher calls on every part of his body to participate in the process.

Sportscasters say, “that pitcher has a great arm.” But it’s not just the arm that throws the ball. Fingers have to hold onto and release the ball. The shoulder has to power the arm. The spine and hips have to generate torque to whip the arm around. The legs have to provide that forward propulsion for the movement.

The lungs can’t be seen from the stands, but if the pitcher couldn’t get air in him he wouldn’t be able to throw the ball. In fact, he’d die. The same is true with veins, arteries, blood and just about every other part of the body.

It’s a very similar story when we think about how high-performing teams deliver the brand experience at the best companies. There are front-line people delivering a service or selling the product. Typically, someone with a great pitch. But as important as they are, front-line employees are just the final connection to the customer.

Without the rest of the company, the brand experience falls completely apart. Someone invented the product or service. Someone figured out the operations requirements for building the product. Some actually worked on the assembly line or sewed on buttons. Someone made sure that the plant or office is a comfortable and safe place to work. Accounting figured out how to bill the customer so that employees could get paid and everyone would actually show up for work.

While the connection is not always obvious, everyone in the company has a role in the customer or brand experience. Everyone in the company contributes to making the product as good as it can be. Companies work at their peak when every part of the organization understands how his or her individual actions contribute to the company’s success.

Interested in communications that get every employee in the company aligned with your goals? Tribe can help.

 

 

 

To Attract And Retain Millennials, Share The Company Vision

At Tribe, we like to say our highest goal is to help align employees with the vision of their company. People like to feel they’re part of something bigger, and they particularly like knowing that their day-to-day work contributes to the company’s overall success. And from a productivity perspective, there’s not much better than having everyone moving things ahead in the same direction every day.

With Millennials, this is even more important. A Deloitte study found that 60 percent of Millennials cite the company’s purpose as a reason for choosing to work for their current employer. If you look only at those Millennials who are most connected on social media, that number rises to 77 percent.

So how do you do that? The same study found that 75 percent of Millennials believe that companies are more focused on their own agendas than on the good of society. And of course, to stay in business, all companies necessarily must concern themselves with turning a profit.

The sweet spot is when a company manages to combine good business with doing good. Sustainability is a great example of this win-win scenario. As the company reduces energy usage, for instance, they’re cutting costs as well as benefiting the environment.

Those in Gen Z, the generation following Millennials, have an expectation of this win-win being relatively simple. In Tribe’s research, many of these young people mentioned in interview sessions that they expected to solve world problems their parents had not made much progress with. They cited their more global views and continuous improvement in technology as two advantages to finding those solutions.

As both Millennials and Gen Z fill more and more of our leadership positions, they’ll begin to mold the way their companies present themselves in the world. We’re likely to see a greater focus on company vision that serves the greater good in addtion to monetary business goals.  For them, this could be business as usual.

Interested in recruiting and retaining these new generations? Tribe can help.

How do you determine your company’s culture?

In an ideal world, your company’s culture stems and grows organically from day one. It’s a grassroots force that spreads from employee to employee, that continues to grow and evolve to support your business.

But often, companies grow rapidly and culture gets lost in the hurried pace of business. Culture takes time to resonate with people. If a company is opening offices and acquiring new partners, especially globally, it can be hard to unite employees under a common culture.

Companies need to evaluate their culture in order to connect with employees. Elements of cultures are undoubtedly growing amongst employees. Your company can really gain an advantage from uniting what is already out there. From a cohesive culture, employees can communicate easier and more effectively. It also helps to ground your business and lets employees understand both your company purpose and their personal purpose within your company.

Here are three steps from Tribe to help discover what makes your company culture tick.

1) Leadership Interviews

Start at the top, by sitting down with members of the leadership team to discuss where they would like their culture to be. Ask about their vision for the organization, as well as their mission and values. Get them to talk about their one-year or five-year goals for the business. You can’t develop a communications plan to align employees with the vision if you don’t understand what that vision looks like.

2) Employee Interviews or Focus Groups

This can be done one on one, either in person or by phone, or in group sessions, although like any focus group, one strong personality can dominate the discussion without a skilled moderator to foster more inclusion. For a representative sample, make sure you’re including employees of different business units, geography, seniority, gender, ethnicity and from functions that cover the gamut from sales to enterprise services to manufacturing or the frontline. This is a time consuming stage, but will provide some of the most critical insights for strategic development.

3) Employee Survey

Surveys allow you to quantify the themes and issues you’ve uncovered in the qualitative stages of Discovery and to gather more general cultural statistics about the employee population. The most useful surveys are structured in ways that allow for a close look at the cultural differences between business units and other silos, geography and demographics. An effective cadence for a comprehensive survey is once or twice a year. Including a number of open-ended questions helps ferret out the intention behind the responses. But keep in mind that it’s important to build in an appropriate level of anonymity so that employees feel safe in answering openly. For a couple of reasons, employee surveys should be fielded regularly. First, these are important tools that measure changes or improvements and allow leaders to understand what’s going on inside the company. Second, if surveys only occur in the midst of major change, lots of angst and negative energy can become associated with an otherwise helpful tool.

TRIBE TRIVIA: Cascading information to offline employees

Q: True or False: The cascading method of sharing communications with non-desk employees replaces the need for corporate to communicate directly with this hard-to-reach audience.

A: False, according to Tribe’s national research with non-desk employees. 72 percent of respondents said communication from their top management is important to them. 84 percent said the information they get from the top is “not enough,” and 34 percent said they hear from corporate “hardly ever.”

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief of Strategy at Tribe. 

TRIBE TRIVIA: Offline employees and corporate vision

Q: What percentage of non-desk employees (those who are not sitting in front of a computer at work) have a good understanding of where the company is heading?

A: 43 percent don’t know the company’s vision for growth , according to Tribe’s national research with non-desk employees.

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief of Strategy at Tribe. 

Asking the age-old question: Should your company values stay the same?

In a perfect world, your company would start from day one with a firmly-rooted set of values. These values would be strong enough to sustain you through the first few stages of your business, and adaptable enough to apply as your company expanded and changed. After all, consistency is key in values and culture. Right?

But that’s a tall order. It’s hard enough to predict business from year to year. Foreseeing how your company will evolve five, ten years in the future is nearly impossible. Businesses, even entire industries, can alter in their trajectory in unpredictable ways. Your values need consistency, but they shouldn’t be written in stone.

Not all big changes in the company warrant a shift in values. There are a few times, though, when you may need to reexamine your company values and tailor them along the way. Here are a few questions Tribe recommends asking yourself if you’re considering a change in values:

Is there a new company vision?

Many companies reinvented themselves during the recession. Market conditions forced some reevaluation and that closer look often revealed new opportunities to redefine the business model — and a new vision for the future.

Do the employees understand the new vision and the role they play in reaching it? Do they know how they’re expected to change their behavior to meet this new vision? Values will be an important part of that equation. A new company vision may require slightly different values from the ones that were appropriate for the old way of doing business.

Has there been a change in leadership?

A new CEO will also generally mean a new vision for the company. A change in top leadership is a prime time to take a close look at the values and how they align with management’s vision for the future.

Has there been a merger or acquisition?

Since values are at the core of the company culture, merging two cultures will usually require some revamping of values. Occasionally, the acquiring company’s values will prevail, but it’s sometimes easier to create a cohesive culture if both companies are becoming part of something new. Evolving your values is a process that begins with defining and articulating what those values are and then moves to actually launching those values company-wide. But the job’s not done once the values are launched. In fact, it’s never done. For values to truly become guidelines for how business is done at your company, they have to be made relevant and meaningful to employees at all levels. Employees will need to see examples of their management putting the values into action. And those values must be communicated with sustaining efforts over a long period of time.

You’ll know you’ve succeeded when you see employees using the company values as the basis for the decisions they make in their work, day after day.

Want more insight? Whether you’re trying to call more attention to your current values or rewriting them completely, give Tribe a call. We would love to help your company communicate.

Are you sharing your company’s story?

Every company has a story. If the narrative is not being shared, you’re missing a chance to engage employees in being part of both the company’s legacy and its future.

The company story can be an invitation for employees and prospects to join the experience. Make the story relevant for corporate employees but also those in the manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and other production jobs. People on the factory floor should know that they’re creating a product that provides people with something that makes their lives better in some way.

Look for the golden thread of purpose that has always run throughout the company’s history. Although business strategies and even the organization of the business may have changed dramatically since the beginning, there’s likely a perennial purpose that’s been there year after year. For instance, an IT company may be using entirely different technology and providing new sorts of services than it was even a few years ago. But look for the reason why the company exists, the need it fills for its clients. In that example, maybe the company purpose is and was to help clients’ technology work flawlessly so they can focus on their own business instead.

UPS, to use an actual company as an example, has been in business for the past century. Although today they not only deliver packages but also handle supply chain, logistics,  and run retail stores, they’re still focused on the same thing: helping their customers move things reliably from one place to another.

What channels would you use to tell the company story? Tribe often creates what we call vision books for clients, in which we help the company articulate the vision and values of the company. This is an ideal tool for telling the company story, for a variety of reasons.

The company narrative can also be told in almost any other channel. Tell it in the employee magazine, on the intranet, as part of a company anniversary event. We’ve even incorporated colorful gems of company history in digital signage.

The importance of the story is that it connects employees to something bigger than themselves. And it helps them see how their individual roles contribute to the overall success and ongoing legacy of the company.

Interested in telling your company’s story? Tribe can help.

 

TRIBE TRIVIA: Cascading Communications

Q: What’s one topic employees don’t want left to cascading communications from their direct managers?

A: Vision and values, according to Tribe’s national research on employees’ preferences in internal communications. About two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents prefer to get that communication directly from the CEO or other top company management.

For more information about this study, see Tribe’s white papers and other resources on the expertise page of tribeinc.com, or contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief of Strategy at Tribe. 

A cheaper alternative to the healthier standing desk

Tribe has long been a fan of Hootsuite. Not only for their great social media dashboard, which is the platform we use to run our Twitter page, but also for their fantastic company culture and the free resources they provide for small businesses and the general public. In many ways, the company is a model for success in the social media industry.

So, when we heard that HootSuite CEO, Ryan Holmes had developed a new standing desk, needless to say we were intrigued. Check it out here. It’s called the Oristand, and at $25 (or $100 for a 5-pack) the folding cardboard conversion is an inexpensive alternative to large, bulky and expensive standing desks. The idea came from HootSuite employees who were cobbling together their own versions out of Ikea furniture and shelves.

For a while now, we’ve been working with many of our clients to promote wellness in the office. A major point that always arises is detrimental act of all-day sitting. Studies have shown repeatedly that the amount of time that the average American office employee spends in a chair is unhealthy. How bad is it? According to the Washington Post, sitting heavily contributes to factors that increase heart disease, pancreas overuse, colon cancer, back injuries and leg disorders — just to name a few things.

Ideally, employees would have time to spend throughout the day to counteract these effects. But we all know that taking a leisurely walk to get the juices flowing is a luxury during a busy day. Sometimes, we simply can’t take the time away from our work. With that in mind, we need to do all we can to ensure that every employee has a way to fight the negative outcomes of sitting.

Many times, the healthier options in life are not always the most affordable. In a perfect world, when it comes to employee wellness, there would be no limit to that budget. But the reality is that standing desks range from $100 all the way to $700 for top-of-the line options. That just isn’t a viable option for many companies. On the other hand, a small business could nearly outfit an entire office with Oristands for the price of one nice standing desk.

Holmes’ innovation is a huge step forward in the standing desk movement. And we hope that it’s a harbinger of the affordable employee wellness revolution to come.

Want to start an employee wellness program at your company? Give Tribe a call. We’d love to help.