Employees want good pay. They want to have some say in how they perform their jobs. They want to be treated fairly. And they want management to be consistent in word and deed. But if you really want a motivated, committed workforce, you’d better answer the five questions that every employee wants to know.
1. Where are we going?
To understand why this question is so important, try this: grab your coat and tell your kids, “Get in the car, it’s time to go.” Then don’t tell them your destination. What you’re likely to get is stubborn resistance, starting with, “Where are we going?” Now tell your children, “Get in the car, we’re going to Disneyland.” They’ll be in the car with seatbelts on before you can get out the door!
It probably doesn’t make sense to tell employees you’re taking them to Disneyland (unless you plan to use it as an incentive for achieving a major strategic goal). But people do need to know where the company is headed and what it will take to get there.
Also, tell them why the company can win, and the strengths that will enable you to prevail. Paint a compelling picture of what winning looks like for your organization, and then communicate through a variety of channels to keep the destination top of mind.
2. What will it look like when we get there?
To create a compelling visual in the minds of employees, describe what different aspects of the business will look like once you reach your destination. For example:
- What key operating targets will you have achieved?
- What will the workplace culture (attitudes, beliefs, values, operating principles, etc.) be like?
- What skills, knowledge, and abilities will exist in the company?
- What organizational structures will be in place?
- What tools, systems, and technologies and work processes will you use?
- What products will you have in the market?
- Who will your customers be?
- Who will you compete against?
- What will your brand stand for?
The more clarity you can provide around your destination, the more likely you are to get there.
3. What difference are we making?
In addition to bringing home a paycheck, most people want to feel like they’re making a difference in the world. Don’t wait for employees to figure it out on their own; tell them on a regular basis! Let them know how the company makes a difference with customers, your community, and the world at large. Remind them of the problems you solve for customers or how you make their lives easier.
And don’t just tell, show people how they’re making a difference by sharing customer feedback. Create a video of customer interviews. Invite a customer to present at a company meeting. Present samples of written testimonials. Make it real by sharing stories and information about the individuals affected.
4. Why is it important for you to get there?
Professional athletes wouldn’t play for a coach who doesn’t care about winning. People in your business feel the same way. They expect you to explain why it’s important for the organization to reach the destination. But they also want to know why it’s important to you.
From time to time, share why you believe in what the company does and why you find the destination so compelling, and what winning means to you. Let your passion shine through! Talk about what the goals mean to you personally and what excites you about achieving them. Solicit similar input from other leaders and share it via emails, the company intranet, or in quarterly staff meetings.
When people understand why you believe in the destination, it increases their buy-in and commitment.
5. Why should we help you get there?
Or, what’s in it for me?
Most people want to do a good job. And they also want to know how they will benefit by helping the company reach its destination. Go beyond good pay and benefits, and focus on intangibles like opportunities for growth, career development, and a positive work environment. Let people know they have more than just a job by working for you; they have the opportunity to be a part of something special.
I always say the great leaders ask the right questions. But sometimes you have to answer them, too. Answer these questions for your employees in a meaningful way and you’ll have a dedicated, passionate workforce that can accomplish just about anything.
Call to action: Start tracking how, when, and where you answer these questions for employees, then identify areas for improvement.
Holly is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. (www.TheHumanFactor.biz) and is a highly sought after and acclaimed speaker, business consultant, and author. Her unique approach to creating strategic agility, helping others go slow to go fast, will change your thinking.