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LEADING OTHERS

Align: Four Simple Steps For Leaders to Create Employee Fulfillment

step one: create culture

Create Culture

Adapted from Align: 4 Simple Steps for Leaders to Create Employee Fulfillment

Every organization has a culture. Either it is conceived and managed in order to create fulfillment for those operating in the culture, or it just happens, which means it is so much less than it could be. 

There has been a lot written about culture in organizations. Here is our working definition here at Alignment Leadership:  

Culture is the sum of each of your team member’s Hopes, Preferences, Traditions, Experiences and Beliefs. 

This is not surface information. It’s deep. It’s who people really are when you scratch below the veneer that we all see every day. It’s what makes them tick. It’s what drives them forward and inspires them. It’s their ‘why’.  

The implication of this definition? There’s no way to know these things about your team without a lot of deep conversations and really listening as you go. 

Once you know your team’s Hopes, Preferences, Traditions, Experiences, and Beliefs you have to set about agreeing on a purpose, a mission. You can’t hand this down to your people and expect them to buy-in. Involve them in every aspect of determining what you as an organization are here for. If they buy into the destination they’ll be sure you all get there.  

Finally, establish your guiding principles that determine HOW you are going to reach your purpose and how you will act along the way. Then, day by day refer to those principles and remind yourself about the agreed-upon purpose so that you stay on course to achieving what you set out to do. 

That’s how culture is cultivated. It’s work. It’s simple, but not easy. But it is totally worth it. Once you work every day in a great culture you will never want to be anywhere else.

step two: create priorities

Create Priorities

Adapted from Align: 4 Simple Steps for Leaders to Create Employee Fulfillment

Using your purpose as your destination is like setting your GPS and heading for the coordinates instead of wandering aimlessly and hoping you’ll get to your destination. Having an agreed-upon destination will relieve a lot of the stress in your organization. The tasks you do every day become the mile markers that tell you that you are getting closer and making progress. Your team will love that!

If you have big mountains to climb you need to start by getting your team in a room and discussing what’s ahead, who has responsibility for what, and timelines. In those meetings you will feel a lot of things—hopefulness and anticipation; urgency, but not frantic-ness; confidence that the peak is reachable and that you can all do it together. 

Classify your tasks into Requirements, Needs and Wants. Here are the definitions of each: 

  • Requirements – Anything that has a hard deadline that’s been set from outside the organization, like an external audit or a project that is due for a client that has a hard deadline. 
  • Needs – A need task is one that addresses something that, if left undone, could introduce a threat to your company, such as a loss of business or revenue. These needed tasks should be completed, but if they are not for some reason, the business won’t necessarily shut down. 
  • Wants – These are the ‘nice to haves’. It would be great to do them if and when someone has time to do them. 

Once you have your tasks broken down into these three categories, you can start to prioritize them. Start with the required tasks, and number them from most important to least important. Then do the same for needs and wants. 

By doing this you give your people a clear vision of what a win looks like. You pick off these tasks one by one and people see the progress and their place in making it happen. This creates momentum. People are engaged in the process. They care about and think through what’s ahead as much as you do, if not more. 

It’s a remarkable transformation, one that exists in most great organizations, no matter the industry.

step three: create value

Create Value

Adapted from Align: 4 Simple Steps for Leaders to Create Employee Fulfillment

hen employees take on tasks they want to do instead of tasks they are only willing to do, they find fulfillment, which is best for everyone. Creating value is not instilling value in your people. The truth is, everyone shows up every day with intrinsic value. Recognize it. Celebrate it. Leverage it. When you do, people begin to feel comfortable sharing their interests and passions. They’ll begin to tell you what they want to work on and how they can improve on how it’s being done right now, whatever it is. 

The trap most of us fall into is we begin to build an organization and suddenly the demands outpace the resources. It’s easy to panic in those moments. Panic leads to terrible decisions. Organizations with healthy cultures are better equipped to handle the inevitable ups and downs that every workplace experiences. Panic will cause us to just put somebody in a role because we need somebody and somebody is better than nobody.

But what does this mean for somebody who took the role who may have no interest or passion for doing it? And, you as a leader cannot know this is going on unless you really know your people and understand them. Then, it’s easy to see the problem you’ve created and fix it. 

Focus on your people’s soft skills. Soft skills enhance hard skills and they are the jet fuel for getting even the most difficult tasks done. The individual who may have the hard skill will do the task, but their motivation is different. They’re trying to complete a task. People who have the soft skills for the role will do the task to the best of their ability to satisfy something within themselves. Which one of those two would you prefer placing in the role? 

Remember that you ‘hire’ hard skills but you ‘recruit’ soft skills. Effective recruiting requires a large referral network. Leverage anyone in your sphere of influence-personal or professional- who understands the culture you are trying to cultivate. 

By now, you are seeing the momentum that comes with taking the time to create culture, priorities and value. Your people are on board and heading toward a destination they had a hand in choosing and using all of their unique and significant gifts and talents to get you there as an organization. 

It doesn’t get better than this!

step four: create success

Create Success

Adapted from Align: 4 Simple Steps for Leaders to Create Employee Fulfillment

Now, you are ready to create outsized success. All the pieces are in place and you as a leader can start to reimagine the future with this team of exceptional people doing what they do best every day. Alignment is happening. Your people know you are fighting every day for their fulfillment. You are on their side. You want your organization to be prosperous financially, but that is no more important than your people finding the prosperity that fulfillment brings. The two are interminably linked. 

So, what does that mean? It’s a powerful leadership theorem, an unbreakable rule, that says that you can win big only when your people win big. That changes the very definition of success, doesn’t it? Having a bank full of money but an unfulfilled team that helped get you there is an unsustainable and joyless template for success. 

When only one person in five (by their own admission) say that they are getting to do what they do best every day, it’s easy to see how rare an aligned organization is. Why is that so? For one, alignment is a lot of work. It’s not easy. It takes time and effort. 

But in the end, when you are standing on the mountaintop with your team and pondering the next mountain to climb together, you’ll experience the joy that leadership is intended to bring not only to leaders but to those you lead.

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Now, more than ever, people are demanding more from leaders. You need the highest level of leadership competence and the character to match it. Join an authentic community of learners redefining leadership for this generation.

JOIN NOW

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