One of the most powerful catalysts to engagement is inviting employees to help solve your organization’s most pressing challenges. By opening up these important conversations, employees feel a part of—rather than on the sidelines of—the true game of business.
We understand that humans unconsciously care about about two things; looking good and being loved. As business communicators, most of our work involves partnering with leaders and other internal stakeholders to ensure that they we communicating the right information, at the right time, to address the needs and concerns of our audiences.Ultimately, ensuring that both the company and executive sponsors are seen in the best light. In other words, we do all possible to make our leaders look good.
Being loved is another issue.
How do we create a context so that people feel loved at work? Just like any relationship, people feel loved when they feel heard, or feel like their partner is listening. Whether conscious or unconscious, people feel loved at work when there is an opportunity to speak-up and communicate what we are thinking. We feel loved when we have a voice.
Our opportunity as business communicators is to set and meet the expectations of humans to be loved at work by nurturing a culture of co-creation. Now that co-creation technologies are more available and affordable, we can move more quickly towards making co-creation a reality. However, we have found that companies are typically wrestling with one or many of these issues:
- Leaders are concerned about what information might be shared
- Communicators and/or IT need to decide what technology should be used (online or offline)
- There is no expectation for employees to participate or contribute
- Potential benefits are not connected to important (and measurable) business objectives
Whether you are experiencing one or many of these issues, I suggest you take one first step. Facilitate a cross-functional conversation about the potential benefits of a co-creation initiative and link the benefits to specific business objectives. For example, would empowering employees to submit ideas about process improvements affect response time, budget efficiency, or even safety? Or, would inviting employees into a conversation about the future of your company drive higher levels of retention, performance, engagement and productivity? How valuable would it be to your company to meet these important objectives faster?
These are great questions, however we need to remember that leaders still don’t know, what they don’t know. Our priority needs to be sharing relevant stories and examples of co-creation initiatives while illustrating the connection to meaningful business objectives. Connecting the benefits of involvement and co-creation to bottom-line, is the bottom line.
We are looking forward to joining fellow communicators on April 14th at the IABC Orange County Monthly Luncheon. Preston Lewis, CEO of Intactic will be leading the discussion called Empowering Enterprise Change and Engagement Through Co-Creation.
I know a book is good when I find myself sharing insights and excerpts in most of my presentations. We are only scratching the surface when discussing the future of the employee/employer contract and it is time to rethink expectations on both sides. Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh cut the BS and share examples of companies who have adopted a new way of nurturing trust at work. If you only have a minute, check out this quick article they wrote for the Harvard Business Review last July for a sneak peak.
Are you ready? Many companies are still not allowing employees to use Facebook while at work. What factors need be present for companies to consider giving this new social tool a try? Many organizations don’t what to be the guinea pig, however Facebook says that they have been using this technology for ten years. Like with most of these new tools and technologies, only time will tell. As we look forward to the case studies, please share if you have one.