In this episode, we’re continuing our season-long, deep dive into ENGAGE 2023, our latest company culture and employee engagement report, by exploring the data related to Shared Mission.
It’s in this section of the report that we asked questions connected to a company’s Reason for Being, Core Values, and Vision.
Helping Beth break it all down are two of Up Your Culture’s amazing Engagement Specialists, Kate Rehling and Mindy Murphy.
Both Kate and Mindy make so many amazing points, like:
- How if employees don’t feel a sense of purpose in their work, they simply won’t give it their all
- Why a company’s core values are truly the “rules of the game”
- And, finally, how employees should be consistently reminded of the role they play in achieving their company’s long-term vision
If Leaders Aren’t Inspired, How Can They Inspire Others?
“95% of respondents reported feeling a sense of purpose in what they're doing,” Beth says, beginning the conversation. “And I just really found that to be something to celebrate.
“For those who are familiar with Simon Sinek, he'd call this their ‘why.’ 95% of people have a ‘why’ that gets them out of bed every morning. So, I thought that was cool.
“First, let me ask you, Mindy, why do you think it's important, in general, that people feel that sense of purpose in their work? And giving you a second part, what risks exist if people lack a sense of purpose in this way?”
“It's really important for people to have a sense of purpose and understand that ‘why,’ Mindy says. “Because then they feel like the work is meaningful, right? They feel inspired and motivated to do their best work possible.
“And when people have that sense of purpose, they're just excited to do the work because they know how it makes a difference.
“On the other side of that, when people don't have a sense of purpose, they can feel demotivated and uninspired about the work they're doing. They won't give it their all, which can hurt productivity.”
“For sure,” Beth says. “That makes perfect sense. Kate, what would you recommend that company leaders do to ensure that their people do feel that sense of purpose or find their work meaningful?”
“I always think about somebody who doesn't find purpose in their work,” Kate says. “Like the lunch lady when I was in grade school, just scooping food and slapping it on the tray. The food probably wasn't really good. If she would've been purposeful, the food would've been delicious.
“But I think really finding that purpose in yourself is the first step we always talk about. Everything starts at the top with leaders.
“If you don't truly have that buy-in, if you're not finding a reason to come to work, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, it's impossible to instill that in others.
“So really home in on, what is your purpose? What is your ‘why?’ What excites you about the work you are doing?
“And then once you nail that down, really being purposeful about passing that along to others and the rest of your team.”
“If you don't have that reason that you feel driven,” Beth says. “How are you going to inspire others? Yeah, really good point.”
In-Office Employees May Be Feeling Left Behind
Beth says, “Now, I noticed when I dug in deep, that the numbers looked a little bit different for those working in the office every day as opposed to hybrid or remote employees.
“One out of every 10 people working from the office is not feeling inspired by the work they're doing. I'm curious, why do you think that might be different? And any advice on that?
“I think the focus has been on hybrid and remote employees,” Kate says. “That's a new work environment and a new work structure for many companies.
“So, I think it was, ‘let's put out this fire first. Let's make sure that we're still connecting with them. We're being more purposeful, we're being more intentional about those hybrid and remote employees. And these people who are in the office already? They'll be just fine.’
“But they're probably feeling a little bit left out and left behind. I think that leaders need to circle back and be just as intentional with those in the office as they're being with those who are hybrid and remote.”
“It is interesting,” Beth says. “Because if they're in the office, we may take them for granted a little bit. I mean, you're physically seeing them in the hallways, you're saying, ‘good morning,’ face-to-face. Maybe we're not doing as good a job of, of using all the best practices as managers that can be used. Mindy, anything that you're, any takeaway there? Anything you'd add?
Mindy says, “I think that leaders and direct reports, if they are in the office full-time, they're together more so that leader may be interacting with them, checking in and thinking, ‘well, we chatted about things.’
“Clearly, that's not enough. And I think a good takeaway is providing them with that sense of purpose and that inspiration. That is really important.
“And then that leader who may be managing a remote or hybrid team might be more intentional about that and think, ‘you know, I need to make the time that we are together a lot more meaningful and really talk about the ‘why’ more.
“That makes perfect sense to me,” Beth says.
Recognize Core Values in Others While Living Them Yourself
“You both mentioned core values,” Beth says. “So, I want to make sure we spend a little time on that.
“Although people clearly do have a good sense of why they do the work they do, that 95% is an impressive number, it doesn't seem as though they’re as clear on the ‘how,’ how to make it happen.
“How do we treat each other as we're making it happen? One in three people either couldn't recall their company's core values or they weren't even aware they had any. So, with that in mind, Mindy, what do you make of this and why is it so important for a company to identify its core values?”
“That was a huge takeaway for me,” Mindy says. “Because there seems to be a disconnect with core values, right? Leaders seem to know them much better than employees. And 70% of managers said that they could easily recite their core values verbatim, but only 44% of employees can. Wow. I mean, that's such a difference.
“To see that number from the company leaders was really exciting, but for core values to really have an impact everybody must know what they are, have a clear definition of them, and know what they really mean.
“So, I think it's just really important that companies identify and clearly define their core values because, you said it Beth, they're the rules of the game. They’re how people get things done. They’re how they treat one another, how they communicate.
“If you don't have core values and don’t communicate them often and people don't live by them, the integrity of the company can really be compromised.”
“Kate,” Beth says. “How can company leaders fix that to be a little bit better? How do they better hold people accountable to the core values that everyone should be expected to live up to so that they actually are core values?”
“Set the example,” Kate says. “It all starts at the top. I’ll sound like a broken record, but if you're not setting the example, no one else is going to follow your expectations.
“I think about our company, one of our core values is responsiveness. And so much so that when I send an email to you, Beth, if I haven't heard back in like 10 or 15 minutes, I'm thinking, ‘Hmm, I wonder what she's up to.’ This is probably a little too responsive, but we literally live by those core values, and our leaders truly do set the example and set the tone.
“I also think recognizing those behaviors when you see them in others; it's so easy to say, ‘great job’ or ‘well done.’ But, a lot of times, it doesn't go much farther than that.
“When you say that and give that pat on the back, really recognize the behaviors you've seen, tie them to your core values. You know, ‘I understand that was really difficult for you to come forward and share that information with me, but I appreciate you really adhering to our core value of integrity.’
“Just really be purposeful about recognizing them while living those core values yourself. That’s a good first step.”
“I love that,” Beth says. “And what a good example. Because you're not just saying great job, which makes someone feel good for a moment, but you're really kind of feeding them this very specific, ‘This what we want to see over and over and over again from you.’ I'm glad you shared that.”
Be Clear About Your Company’s Vision and the Role that Every Employee Plays in Achieving It
“There's definitely a ‘vision vacuum’ as well,” Beth says. “Surprisingly, just digging in a bit deeper, employees working in hybrid and remote environments are slightly more likely to be motivated by their company's long-term vision than those working in an office. Kind of an interesting twist there.
“So, my question to you is, how can companies most effectively express their long-term vision so that people see themselves in the ongoing story of the company, whether they're in the office or hybrid? And you might even have some insight into that; what can they do to improve here?”
“Keeping it at the forefront of your mind is so important,” Kate says. “And I think there's so many layers when it comes to the vision of a company.
“It starts at the very top and then trickles down to other leaders. But it's possible some of those leaders aren't even aware of what the company vision overall is. So, keep it at the forefront of your mind, and really make sure that it's a part of your daily talk. Also, talk about your company’s vision as you're recruiting and selecting individuals so that, when they're coming on board, they're aware of where you see your company moving forward in the future.
“And [new hires] are more than likely motivated by that vision. It probably has something to do with why they've joined your company, but then still maintain a cadence so you're continually bringing the vision to the forefront.
“Maybe it's a quarterly meeting where you're connecting on what the vision is and where you are, how far you've come, and brainstorming some ideas together to continue moving in that direction. Maybe it's, once a month in your weekly IFMs, connecting with others to make sure they're ‘bought in’ and they feel like they're having an impact on the vision of the company.”
“I like the frequency of the cadence,” Beth says. “I also like that you're talking about not just telling employees what the vision is, but actually getting their input and brainstorming too.
“I always picture going on a road trip when I was a kid. We'd go on a road trip, and my whole family and all the kids would cram into the car. And I remember sometimes thinking, ‘Where are we going? And how long do I still have to sit here in this middle seat, squished like this? And are we going to stop at some point in time?’
“We all feel that way. I think you get in the car, figuratively speaking, you join the company and you want to know ‘where are we going’ and ‘what am I going to expect along the way?’
“Mindy, tell me what you think, first of all, just in general on what we’ve learned in vision and then any ideas you have that listeners can use to improve here.”
“I think you make a great point,” Mindy says. “We do work with a lot of companies who end up working on this because in talking with all the leaders, they sometimes say, ‘What is our vision? Am I making that clear to everybody?’
“So, I think it's important for all leaders to be on the same page with that vision.
“I also think if you can share the role that each person will play in working to achieve that vision, like what is their piece of the puzzle? How can they contribute to achieving that? That could be motivating to them. And really tie it back to what's most motivating to each individual.
“So, if somebody's really competitive, you can let them know how they're going to be a part of achieving that vision and then how you're going measure their progress along the way. Beause they like to score points. So that might be a good way to motivate that competitive person.
“I think that's important to think about, ‘how are we going to make this inspiring for each individual?’”
Collaborate on Core Values
“Okay, last question,” Beth says. “If you could recommend one thing that company leaders can do when it comes to building a strong shared mission, what would it be? Where would you start?”
“I just think establishing or reestablishing a strong set of company core values, really refining them and defining them is important,” Mindy says. Because they are the rules of the game.
“You might even consider including the entire team in that process. Involving everybody will create buy-in for sure, but ask their thoughts or even hold a brainstorming session to make sure you have the right core values in place. Really make sure they're well-defined for everybody.
“And then, of course, once you establish them and define them, hire people who demonstrate those same values and hold people accountable to them.”
Beth says, “What is it that we sometimes say? It's simple; it's just not easy. That would probably describe what you're recommending, and I really like it. What about you, Kate?”
“I would piggyback on what Mindy has said and say collaborate,” Kate says. “Even if your company does have an existing set of core values, they don't necessarily have to be set in stone.
“And maybe the core values for your team look a little bit different and the definitions of them look a little bit different than the manager who sits next to you every day. And that's okay.
“It's just important to involve your entire team because that creates buy-in. They feel that sense of ownership. ‘Yes, we work together to create these core values and so I'm going to make sure I'm living by them every day. I'm recognizing people for them, and I'm calling people out, for lack of a better term, when I see someone who's not living by them."
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