We’re in the midst of an “engagement crisis". Organizations focused on becoming healthy and successful don’t avoid the awkward and emotional discussions on what it takes to become customer- and employee-centric. They see employee well-being and satisfaction as highly important, and their leaders are more engaged with employees and customers.
Smart organizations are strategic and revenue-driven, as this leads to greater intelligence and higher rates of growth. Smarter organizations strive for the same intelligence and growth while putting their people first. Smarter organizations are always prepared for disaster, so that if it strikes, the business has the foundation to endure mistakes and failures. Setbacks in the business—whether due to competition, product, or operations—can quickly weaken an organization.
A business with people who are emotionally connected at the heart and soul of the company’s mission and voice will pick up and recover from a disaster quicker. Here’s a quick case study on how leading from compassion can help organizations in difficult times.
In 2007 to 2008, Starbucks, the world’s most popular coffee retailer, suffered from overexpansion, the recession, and, most of all, losing sight of its core mission: “to inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Despite the financial and organizational turmoil Starbucks faced, the company’s first priority was to restore faith with its employees and customers. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz refrained from chasing profits and, with humility, focused on the relationship the company had nurtured with employees and loyal customers over the years. Starbucks’ emotional written and verbal confession of its failures and genuine commitment to return to the company’s core mission were key to the eventual recovery and restoration of the company’s brand, finances, and operations. Starbucks was able to tap into the heart of its business, a powerful consumer story and the long-standing relationship with people. This re-commitment, combined with a strategic operational plan, helped Starbucks regain its position as the top coffee provider in the world.
One of my favorite business authors is Jim Collins. In his bestseller Good to Great, he states, “Good is the enemy of great.” It’s a brilliant phrase, as it sums up what I shared earlier: Smart organizations focus on growth, productivity, and intelligence, which is good, but smarter organizations also focus on organizational health, which is great. Collins digs deep into stories of organizations that have fallen or experienced setbacks, and then rose to achieve greater business excellence. And in each example, one theme is consistent: The first step every good to great company takes is to bring the right people on board, in the right roles.
According to Collins, having the right people eliminates the need to have to manage them closely, decreasing the risk of losing them. So in the case of companies like Starbucks, when you need to change course or direction, you have loyal, invested people looking to make a difference.
These organizations focus not only on selecting the right talent, but also on advocating for their growth as valued employees. The next step once you have the right talent is to focus on the best path and right resources for them to get their jobs done.
When I walked the exhibit hall at the recent HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas, I was pleasantly surprised at how many new technology vendors and software-as-a-service companies had designed business models entirely based on “employee happiness.” These new and inspiring engagement vendors have fascinating evidence on why we’re in the midst of an engagement crisis, which led me to wonder—why did we wait for innovation as a breakthrough to keep employees engaged and happy?
Today’s healthy organizations are building a distinctive culture that sets them apart from their competition and other industry leaders. They are nurturing qualities within the organization that inspire and motivate the workforce. In addition to embracing technology and innovation as a way to respond to the latest trends, they’ve replaced top-down management tactics with progressive, even radical management styles, encouraging employees to be creative and influential. This culture allows for continued innovation, deeper satisfaction levels, and higher productivity.
In my recent blog post on employee engagement, I identified three main ways organizations can identify an engaged employee:
#1: An Engaged Employee Is Satisfied and Happy
#2: An Engaged Employee Relates to the Company's Culture and Mission
#3: An Engaged Employee Is Given Opportunities to Participate in Wellness, Recognition and Motivation Programs
I will be presenting more on the benefits of building an authentic culture of motivation and wellness using Oracle's My Wellness, Career and Succession applications at the upcoming Oracle CloudWorld events in January and March.