How alignment and engagement can create positive accountability
“If your employees don’t know where you’re going, almost any road will get them there.”
These are words that send chills through the hearts of leaders everywhere. And it’s why they work hard to develop business plans for their workforce to follow. Even the best-intentioned, savviest business plans can fail if the organization lacks consistent employee commitment. But you can’t just mandate commitment. Organizations that achieve the promise of their business plan are able to create “positive accountability” – a powerful, healthy culture that results from goal alignment and workforce engagement.
Goal alignment is a common challenge, yet its solution can be as simple as how goals are established. If developed through a process of top-down collaboration with employees, strategic imperatives will cascade to frontline behaviors, dramatically impacting an organization’s success. Effectively channeling employees’ talents boosts their productivity and job satisfaction. And satisfied employees often become high-performing, passionately engaged employees.
Workforce engagement allows organizations to tap into their employees’ discretionary efforts. However studies show that only 1 in 4 employees comes to work actively engaged, or “on purpose.” These are the individuals that find their work personally and professionally meaningful. Of course this means that 75% of employees consistently fail to execute to their full potential. More disturbing, the same studies show that almost one-third of these are actively disengaged and can undermine the engagement of others.
Clearly, addressing alignment and engagement challenges can result in significant bottom-line dividends. Consider high-performance cultures like Google and Southwest Airlines. Two unique companies in very different industries, they both sustain their competitive advantage by leveraging the commitment of their employees. They have created cultures that drive alignment and engagement to achieve their strategic goals.
The Positive Accountability Model (below) helps to illustrate four different profiles that organizations typically fall into. Specifically, it examines how varying degrees of Goal Alignment and Workforce Engagement can result in Casual, Compliant, Chaotic or Committed cultures.
The Casual Culture
Employees in the Casual Culture are unclear about how personal contributions support their organization’s success and, often, they don’t care. Most organizations struggle with disengaged employees, but Casual Cultures have more than their share. You’ll often spot the Casual Culture in the wake of a merger, acquisition or new CEO. It’s often embedded in entrepreneurial companies, fueled by passionate, egocentric leaders, rather than by calculated ones who, instead, implement collaboratively planned process discipline.
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