A strong brand is more than just a public face for your business. It’s something that employees buy into. A strong brand leads to higher engagement levels from employees and according to a study by Gallup, engagement leads to performance. In fact, those on the top half (engaged work units) were almost twice as likely to achieve success than those in the bottom half (disengaged work units). That’s not a difference to scoff at.
Employee buy-in, in my opinion, comes from one primary driver: belief.
Specifically, belief is made up of three interlinked areas.
Employees need to believe in the business mission in order for their behaviour to be aligned with the company’s needs. Simon Sinek believes there are only two ways to influence behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. While manipulation can be effective, it can lead to disaster. Employees invariably discover that they are being manipulated and then any buy-in that has been fostered will be destroyed. More than that, the reality is that employees talk. Any manipulation is bound to be spread across the company very quickly.
Inspiration should be the goal then. If we look at how to inspire people, it should be by creating something that is bigger than them that they can believe in. An excellent example of this was President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 announcement of the USA’s intent to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This inspired a whole country to believe in something beyond themselves and in something that seemed impossible.
Yet, in July 1969, Niel Armstrong stepped foot on the surface of the moon, taking – in his words – one giant leap for mankind. One thing to note is that the zeitgeist of the American people was squarely focused on an outrageous destination, not on internal politics. When employees believe in something greater than themselves, the focus is on a common goal and that leads to a higher propensity to believe in the vehicle that gets them there: the business.
However, a goal is only powerful if the employees know about it. This underlines the importance of induction programmes and the communication of strategy. Effective digital training can execute on both accounts.
Employees need to believe in the business mission in order for their behaviour to be aligned with the company’s needs.
Once a business goal is established, employees then need to believe that the leadership is capable of executing the mission. There are two factors that drive that belief: the capability of the leadership and the perceived capability of the leadership. The core of these factors is execution and communication.
Firstly, if the leadership is unable to deliver, employees are not going to have confidence in the business as a whole. This shines a light on the importance of leadership training and succession planning, both of which can effectively be solved with digital learning.
Secondly, employees not knowing that the leadership is effective is tantamount to the leadership not being effective in terms of buy-in. It is imperative then, that the successes and activities – where appropriate – are communicated to employees regularly.
Once again digital learning can fit in nicely. A benefit of digital learning that is often overlooked in business is its potential for communication. In fact, if we break it down, learning is simply the retention of information, effectively communicated from a source. Whether it is a formal source like University or online courses or an informal source like an executive with the experience of running a business, doesn’t matter. The point is that there is a communication between the source and the learner; an uptake of information. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Lastly, employees need to know that they are contributing to the mission. Like the leadership, this translates into actually being able to deliver and knowing that their actions are impactful.
In order to ensure that employees can deliver, they need to have the right tools for the job. These tools are delivered to them through induction programmes and through consistent upskilling throughout their tenure.
Once they have the ability to deliver, they need to know that it matters. This, once again, underpins the importance of communication. Often, the responsibility rests on direct line managers, but it is also important to communicate the bigger wins. Employees will connect the dots themselves.
Digital learning – surprise, surprise – can deliver here too. Not only is it an effective way cultivate employee buy-in, but it is also cost-effective. And as the world leans on technology more and more, so will digital learning cement its place in the business world. Now that makes business sense.
Employee engagement drives growth
Author: Kyle Hauptfleisch