Do Try This At Home!
As you know I am extremely passionate about the concept of creating engaged environments and strong employment brands. Often what I hear from people is " that's great Mark, but I am a small business with a small work force and small budget". The other thing I hear is "how"?
I came across a couple of pieces earlier this week that I thought were nothing short of brilliant in explaining both why and how this is relevant to small business.
Paul Mitchell, the brilliant Australian social scientist www.thehumanenterprise.com.au, shared some things that both resonated with me and were immediately applicable to businesses without regard to their size.
- The first thing that Mitchell did was describe leadership in a simple, but very compelling way. A leader excites their followers to exceptional performance. This definition is especially relevant because performance and effort are what engagement is ultimately about. Not happiness, not "satisfaction", but performance. Those others factors maybe contributors, but at the end of the day we need results.
The next thing that Mitchell talked about were the four key elements that every business should build into their "value proposition":
- Great leaders focus on followers. Mitchell and I share the belief that relationships are the "glue" in organizations. Truly effective leaders do things with people, not to people. With their employees, with their customers, with their suppliers, with their community.
- Build a sense of community. Following that same theme leaders understand they are part of a community and they invest in it. They build and nurture relationships on a foundation of trust and respect. They exchange value and values not transactions.
- Be yourself, but with more skill. Mitchell calls this authenticity. Everyone has allowable weaknesses, his point is to focus on your strengths and core competencies. Seek out other relationships internally and externally that complement your skill sets and offering.
- Focus on what matters. Mitchell suggests that we look for significance in ourselves and others. Find what you and others do right and celebrate it whether they are an employee, a customer, a neighbor, or a stranger. Connect them to the larger community and the larger context. We are a village, not an island.
- Build the excitement. There is an old amusing expression "if you are excited, you might want to let your face know". This speaks precisely to Mitchell's earlier definition of leadership. Be excited and share excitement. If you are not excited and don't believe in "you", how can you expect others to?
Added to this wisdom from over the "pond" I had a chance to see some results from the national survey and initiative on engagement from the U.K. that showed similar things. The country wide study found that there are four elements that build and sustain the engaged environment:
- Role and role modeling
Once again it comes down to relationship. Listening and treatment speaks to my guiding principle of respect. Coaching and role speak to the principle of the big picture and autonomy. Role modeling speaks to authenticity and values. The British study also found that when leadership commits to these behaviors they become "viral", they spread through the organization both formally and informally.
By the way they did examine compensation as well and what they found was again consistent. Money may initially attract, but the most important qualities of compensation are perceived equity and fairness. So the short story is if you do compensation well it is a break even, it won't detract from engagement. If you do it badly it will destroy your foundation. Once again we see the tie back to relationship that once we get past survival mode it is about fairness and equity, not dollars.
So when you think about building and reinforcing your brand, be sure you include these elements. The interesting thing is you don't need a big budget or large staff and yes, you can do this at home......