I read a good post at HBR not too long ago whose premise was that if your employees don’t know what your company does, it’s unlikely your customers will.
Unfortunately not only do employees not know what the company does, they don’t know that what they do matters! You can amplify your value to your customers (hence your company) as a leader/manager by developing engaged employees:
- Knowing what your company does – Read Anthony Tjan’s post for some good ideas. “Your Employees Have No Clue What Your Company Does”
- Translating it into simple language – Google’s done a great job of this. “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” And a laugh from the other end of the spectrum (yes this is true), “… to scout profitable growth opportunities in relationships, both internally and externally, in emerging, mission inclusive markets, and explore new paradigms and then filter and communicate and evangelize the findings.”
- Explaining how employees contribute to the company’s success – This linkage is the critical piece to linking engaged employees to your company success. In my experience this link is often ignored, especially in supporting functions (e.g. a Human Resources employee in a Legal Firm). If the HR specialist doesn’t understand that the benefits program, 401K plan, and compensation policy contribute to the firm’s success, how much passionate engagement will an employer get?
- Measure performance and communicate results – Seems simple, but knowing what you do is different than knowing how you do. How does my performance stack up against my peers’? How does it compare to my performance last year?
Being able to articulate what the company does is a start. But turning that knowledge into passionate engagement comes from strong management! The pivot point is that employees who know that what they do is valued and that their improved performance is noticed can increase profits and move your company towards its goals.