How creating high-levels of commitment drives creative business success
Over many years of working with creative business leaders trying to figure out how to create value we have come to realise one thing: for any change in direction to get off the ground you need a magical, intangible ingredient: employee engagement.
Inspiring your people to be bothered to deliver your company vision, pledge themselves to a new strategy or simply improve things is vital. Research shows an engaged employee is 87% less likely to leave a job – and a fully engaged person performs at a 20% higher level* . In creative business performance is so correlated to staff engagement it is in my view a key success factor for long-term sustainability.
So here is a bit of food for thought on how you can improve engagement in your business. Score your company on the following ten questions (you need to answer “yes, absolutely” or “no, but we are working on it as a real priority” to all ten!):
- Are your line manager’s real managers? And, just to be clear, we are not talking about skilled programmers, programme-makers, designers, animators or any other creative or technical specialist. That’s how you get promoted to management in the first place. But being an empathetic and skilled manager of teams and people is not something most people are born with. You and your managers need to be clear about the distinction. We have all experienced bad management (and its toxically demotivating effects).
- Do your people really believe in your company direction? And remember, first they have to understand what direction you are going in before they can get to the stage of believing in it!
- Are you providing inspiring leadership from the top? This is not easy to do consistently. High-performance leaders provide direction, show respect, inform regularly, live their values, exude energy and are role models.
- Do you involve people through involvement and consultation? Kirkbright recently facilitated strategy for a large UK business. Over 18 months we involved over 200 staff members (10% of the workforce) directly, and 2,000 indirectly, in an engagement and change management programme. We know this type of exercise can be time consuming for any business large or small but we know it pays dividends in the long-run.
- Have you got a genuinely “people-centric” culture? We all know the old company mission cliché: “Our people are our biggest asset”. But things become clichés for a reason. And all businesses (ESPECIALLY creative businesses) appear horribly hypocritical if action does not match rhetoric.
- Do you have perfect internal communications? Don’t answer that one! However much you communicate right now you know the answer is “no” – at least in the minds of some of your staff! When we diagnose problem issues in businesses this is always in the top five staff complaints - normally because there is insufficient consistency, skill and focus from top management in this vital area.
- Do you offer your people genuine influence over how their job done? This means doing the HR basics rights (e.g. two-way performance reviews) as well as open-minded and empowered line managers who are prepared to innovate to improve. That always flows from top management.
- Do your people get the “Big Picture”? In other words, do you take the time to explain why “things get done the way they do”. This is especially important for unpopular business practices such as time sheets (which crop up as an issue over and over again).
- Do you offer opportunities for career development? This is one of the arguments for smaller creative businesses to grow a little as it avoids losing talented staff who get bored waiting to fill “dead man’s shoes”.
- Do you walk the walk? Are your personal values as an owner/manager and leadership team reflected in the organisation’s values? Any disparity between your leadership behaviour and what you project as “what the company is all about” can be potentially damaging.
If you want to chat about any of the issues in this blog feel free to call me 0845 658 6855 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Corporate Leadership Foundation 'Driving Performance and Retention through Employee Engagement', 2004.
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