March 10, 2015
Leaders seeking solutions to employee engagement woes take note: research suggests that highly-engaged workforces have one thing in common: a Connection Culture.
In parts one and two of this three-part series, we explored the first two elements of a Connection Culture – vision and value. Today, we will explore the final element: voice.
Do It My Way
Imagine this scenario: a team spends a month planning a product launch and is meeting to finalize the details. Suddenly, the vice president of the division walks into the meeting and, without waiting to hear the team’s recommendations, begins to rattle off orders for the product launch, including many tactics that are opposite from the team’s plan.
The team leader, too intimidated to stand up to the vice president, simply agrees to go along with the vice president’s orders. As a result, a month of work is wasted and the morale of the team drops substantially.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
In the scenario above, the organization is suffering from a lack of the third element of a Connection Culture – voice. Voice exists when the organization offers an open, honest, and safe environment in which people can share their opinions. The goal is to understand each other and seek the very best ideas for each situation.
When people’s ideas and opinions are sought and considered, it helps meet the human needs for respect, recognition, and belonging. “Being in the loop,” so to speak, makes people feel connected to their colleagues, just as being “out of the loop” makes people feel disconnected.
It’s important to note that giving people a voice does not necessarily mean giving them a vote in decisions. It simply means keeping the lines of communication open so that employees feel empowered to make suggestions and speak freely if they believe the organization is headed in the wrong direction.
A Master of Voice
A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble, was a master of using voice to boost performance. When he met with people, he told them what was honestly on his mind before asking them to share what issues they were thinking about. He encouraged people to “get the moose out of the closet” before it grew into bigger problems.
When he first became CEO in 2000, Lafley conducted an employee survey to gather ideas and ended up implementing many of them. In his interactions with people, Lafley made it all about them rather than all about him, and the results he produced were stunning.
As Lafley began his first stint as CEO, P&G was performing poorly and morale was low. In his first 12 months, Lafley led an effort that resulted in a two-and-a-half times increase in employee approval of P&G’s leadership and a soaring profitability and stock price—so much so that P&G was able to acquire the Gillette Corporation.
Giving people a voice is critical to helping them feel connected to colleagues, leaders, and the organization. Wise managers show the humility to seek other’s opinions and are rewarded with a highly-engaged workforce.