Engaging Employees Around Your Future vision

By Jeff Haltrecht

The lead article in this issue of Polaris Digest talks about the need to live in the future and work in the present - a great piece of insight that when practiced well, will lead to great results.  To make this a reality, you will want to engage your team around your vision and help them adapt, learn and recover as they attempt new and untried strategies.

Here are 8 straightforward steps designed to engage your employees around your future vision.  For each direct report, work your way through the list, connecting with each person individually, and the whole team as a group.

  1. Expose them to the realities of the status quo
    Let them see first hand that staying where they are is not an option.  Have them talk directly to the customer, take them out into the field, or arrange for them to work on the shop floor.  Whatever is needed for your people to see firsthand something is amiss.
  2. Know their agenda
    Work at understanding each person’s own agenda and – surprise! – learn it may not align with yours.  Understand why they chose to work with your company and find common ground that motivates them to help you bring your future vision to life.
  3. Play to their strengths
    Ensure individuals are in roles that allow them to use their strengths to succeed.  They will deliver greater results when working in areas where they excel, and won't be distracted by attempting to fix their weaker skills.
  4. Establish 3 time sensitive goals
    Goals are used best to
    1) align people’s behaviours in support of the new vision, and
    2) as a means to stretch an individual's performance. 
    Try to have 3 goals per person that are attainable through a very solid work ethic.
  5. Focus on building their self-esteem
    Self-esteem is core to believing you can achieve anything you sincerely desire.  Often in business we encounter new situations.  A heavy dose of self-esteem allows us to work our way through the new experience and deal with the set backs that come along.  Building self-esteem in your people will enable them to reach the new heights you are asking of them.
  6. Create a culture of disciplined thought and action
    Discipline should be at the lifeblood of your culture, for without it there will be a poor work ethic.  You want a consistent and thoughtful approach to analysis, decision-making, and execution that will have your team doing it right the first time.
  7. Enable them to make progress in their contributions
    Harvard Business Review recently published a study stating ‘making progress’ in their work was the single biggest motivator for employees.  Your role as leader is to help break down the barriers and coach each individual to make decisions that move things forward.
  8. Reward publicly (and coach for improvement privately)
    Everyone likes to be recognized and now is the time to do it proactively.  Take advantage of every opportunity to acknowledge great results publicly, so that others can learn what positive behaviour looks like.  And, if you need to coach for improvement, remember to do this privately behind closed doors; don’t embarrass an employee in front of others, or risk having them disengage from the business and bring others down with them.

Using all 8 steps to engage your employees will help free time to focus on the bigger and more strategic priorities that require your attention, while ensuring your future vision is attained.

Jeff Haltrecht is a principal Leadership Coach at the Polaris Learning Academy and the Facilitator of the Polaris Alumni; he is a regular contributor to Polaris Digest