Big heart and raised hands - acknowledge individual contributions

Creating employee engagement is a challenging endeavor for any organization, particularly if it’s suffering from low employee morale or if there is a “make or break” strategy that needs to be executed well for the organization to continue to be viable. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. There is really no “one size fits all” approach. I read an article this week about BNY Mellon’s CSR employee engagement initiative, which I thought was a great example of focusing on one area of the business and developing a process for engaging the business. The author makes some very good points while sharing four best practices to drive effective engagement that are worth reading.

The article got me thinking about one other issue that is often underestimated when we look to create engagement in strategy at companies. The article focuses on the issue of sustainability, an area where many people will have a natural affinity and passion. The groundwork was set for people to care and the focus was on linking relevance and engagement more so than getting people to care about sustainability.

A lot of the strategies that organizations are pursuing might have come from a well-researched recommendation from a consultant, have a great financial argument, and a good process to pursue it, but lack compelling context or anything people can easily rally about or want to personally connect to. We often do a really poor job of telling the compelling story of what we want to create.

I have been working with a client in the building products industry that was adding countertops to its cabinetry portfolio as a strategy. For many folks within the organization, it was viewed as a distraction or another way to chase some extra dollars with an additional product. When we were able to engage people in the story, there was clearly a legitimate opportunity to revolutionize the industry. Builders purchase both products, but they have to do so from different players. With this new product, they can be served faster and more holistically and in a way no one else can. Once the story was told cohesively with greater context, the energy and commitment toward the effort changed profoundly with the group.

Most of us have heard the legendary pitch that Steve Jobs made to John Sculley to join him at Apple in the 1990s, asking if he “wanted to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world.” My point is not a judgment about either industry, but about creating a compelling case and context for the strategies we are putting in place as a key and often underestimated differentiation to create engagement and sustainment on strategy.


June 13, 2011


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