4 Ways Successful Leaders let Employees Take the Wheel
Many organizations want employees to embrace change, but that doesn’t go far enough. They should drive it.
Employees have trouble embracing change because they have to get behind something they did not create. While some strategies appear to be effective at getting employees to embrace change, a stronger and longer-lasting solution comes from having skin in the game and constant employee involvement in the changing organization.
Businesses have become much more transparent. Giving employees more of a say is hard to avoid. Instead of hiding company challenges and solving them behind closed doors, consider inviting employees into problem-solving discussions. Companies like Google, LinkedIn and Sony have had some success with employees submitting new product ideas and developing them. And it leads to a competitive advantage.
A stronger and longer-lasting solution comes from having skin in the game and constant employee involvement in the changing organization.
What should you do to put employees in the driver’s seat?
1. Listen to employees and take action.
Sounds simple, however companies of all sizes find this difficult to actually do. It takes leaders at all levels who actively listen and follow up, regularly. When this happens consistently, employees have reason to speak up and get involved.
2. Share organizational challenges that inspire employees to help solve.
If employees don’t know how they can help, the value and impact they bring will be easily lost and wasted. On the flipside, they can bring a new perspective and become a greater asset.
3. Have processes that make it easy and efficient for an employee idea to go from inception to execution.
There are new platforms being developed that go way beyond sharepoint and the traditional suggestion box that can help share, track, evaluate and action employee contributions.
Make it easy and efficient for an employee idea to go from inception to execution.
4. Constantly encourage everyone to share success stories.
When employees see their own impact on driving change, it encourages the cycle to continue and become ingrained in the culture. One of my favorite stories is from Morton’s. An employee saw a hungry customer jokingly tweet from an aircraft as he was boarding his flight: “Hey, @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)” The passenger was absolutely shocked when he landed and found a guy in a tuxedo greeting him, holding a hot porterhouse steak in his hands. It may not have been the normal course of business for Morton’s but this is the upside to having an empowered workforce.
What are the results of putting employees in the driver’s seat?
Employees become, what I like to call, “brandful.” This means they start living the brand because they are now a part of it. They genuinely promote your products and services through their personal networks. They go the extra mile to best represent your brand. This can have a tremendous impact on marketing, corporate citizenship and recruiting efforts. It allows you to step away from pushing such efforts onto employees and becomes something they are inspired to do.
Companies mistakenly spend time and resources on being a part of the top employers list. This approach focuses on enticing employees to feel proud because of what they are given, instead of what they are giving.
Companies mistakenly spend time and resources on being a part of the top employers list. This approach focuses on enticing employees to feel proud because of what they are given, instead of what they are giving. The approach of placing employees in the driver’s seat is the wave of the future, where employees and employers win together by what they both contribute to the winning brand. The pride comes from what they can do together.
The next time you feel yourself becoming frustrated that employees aren’t getting onboard with all the changes going on, think about trying a different approach. Let me know how it goes.
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