Great entrepreneural companies have a passionate spirit that feels like a gust of warm wind sweeping you off your feet as you walk through their door. It may be a bit hectic, but you want to tighten your shoelaces and run along. I’ve been working with some of these guys on strategy and growth, and it’s an exhilarating journey.
There are challenges of course, but I’m not finding them in the employee engagement arena. Employees are volunteering to help with the enthusiasm of Horshack in Welcome Back Kotter.
I’ve also seen companies rush to get (or stay) big, and lose their edge. Vision turns into secret plans for the inner circle, lawyers cautioning against transparency, building a diversity “strategy” that translates into babble and ratios, leaders turning to HR for employee engagement, and somewhere along the line, someone deciding it’s time to start “stack ranking” performance.
As you become bigger, never forget the joy and freedom of being small.
3 Ways Thinking Small Will Improve Engagement
“From a small seed, a mighty trunk may grow.” -Aescuylus
1. Be Real, Fun, Involved, and Empowering
An entrepreneurial CEO recently brought me in to help build leadership bench strength. Rather than “train,” we built a vision, identified priorities and then a business case for a program with a significant spend but a massive ROI.
The CEO stayed out of the room until the team presented their “case” along with theme music and dramatic visuals at the end of the day. His eyes glistened, and his comments were brief, “If this works, this will be gold.” Then he laughed and said. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”
He then came back with a large, professionally printed version of a previous plan to tackle the same issue that had failed. He said one word. “Execution.”
After his eight word caution, he funded the project.
They executed flawlessly.
A well-mannered, “I believe in you, don’t screw this up,” goes a long way.
2. Keep the Vision Visible
Despite the obvious common sense nature of this statement, I’m always surprised at how rare this is. Sure you’ve got to hold some stuff close to the vest, but if you’re having employees sign “non-disclosures” right and left or are keeping your true strategy confined to a small inner circle, know there are a lot of dots not getting connected and a lot of brains thinking small because they don’t have the perspective to think bigger.
Folks feel the secrecy, which leads to a fast growing feeling of “If you don’t trust me, why should I bother?” Bothered and included leads to brilliance. Share enough information to stir positive, proactive angst.
3. Stay Humble
Small companies have the common sense to know they can’t know it all, and are not afraid to learn, read, and bring in extra support. I’ve only heard, “I really need to get smarter in this arena” from the small guys.
When you think you already know, you don’t learn.
In a fast-changing world, the confident and humble will outsmart and out run “I’ve got this.” Every time.
Be real, open and humble. Think smaller to think bigger.
Today’s image is a word cloud based on your awesome comments (and emails) on Friday’s post, defining “employee engagement.” If you missed the chance to add your definition click here