The Employee is not a Stakeholder!
Surely this is wrong. Is it?
The Employee is not a Stakeholder. The Segmented Employee Stakeholder is.
Employees are not homogenous. They are not beans in a tin can.
There is a vast difference between a new employee and someone who has been with the company for many years. The one is eager, has fresh ideas, wants to make a difference but does not know everything about the company nor the culture, whilst the older one is cynical, has seen many change programs start and/or falter.
Researchers and experts around the globe segment employee stakeholders into many types ranging from Traditionalists to Baby Boomers to Generation X and Millenials, indicating that there are differences between the way employees interact, participate, communicate, listen and learn.
In fact, some studies classify employees into four generations in the workplace:
- Traditionalists born 1925-1942
- Baby Boomers born 1943-1962
- Generation X born 1963-1978
- Generation Y/Millennials born 1979-1998 (under age 30 today)
Boomers, Generation X and Millenials differ in the way they solve problems, focus on tasks and make decisions.
For instance studies show that Boomers tend to solve problems in a hierarchical fashion whilst Millenials like to solve problems in a collaborative fashion.
But even pigeonholing some people into these categories can be dangerous. One size does not fit all.
Just because I am 52 years old, does it make me a Baby Boomer? 80% of the way in which I do things and solve problems are millennial in nature. Yet, when it comes to certain things like ethics and manners I am definitely old school.
Many years ago I remember how upset I became when I was given a letter stating that I was a certain grade in a Paterson Job Grading Scheme. In fact, I tore the letter up and stated that I was a person not a grade.
How you profile and classify employees will determine how you treat them and design training programs, communication and other campaigns.
How you profile and segment your employee stakeholder will affect your engagement strategies. One definition of engagement is that it is the “heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work”
How can you raise this emotional connection if you have not segmented your employees?
Understanding the various profiles is vital. Profiling your employee stakeholder is vital if you want to design and develop targeted communication, engagement and learning campaigns to build a superior reputation.
P.S To assist companies with the task of building a superior reputation in the workplace, I will facilitate a 2 – day workshop on Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement from the 18th – 19th August in Johannesburg.
During this two day workshop‚ you will learn how to boost internal stakeholder engagement & communication‚ enhance professional stakeholder management processes and enhance the organisations’ quest to be an admired employer. I will cover:
- Why Engagement is not just a buzzword;
- What is the secret of engagement and becoming an Employer of choice;
- How to strategically profile & engage the employee stakeholder to build brand awareness and reputation;
- How to design, implement & drive an effective engagement strategy, using tools such as stakeholder management, communication, Social Media, liberated HR and OD practices & engagement techniques;
- Practical steps on how to impact relationships with the internal stakeholder in a favourable manner;
- What it takes to become an admired & preferred employer;
December last year I facilitated a one day program at a conference called Strategic Employee Engagement. The lessons learned from interacting with the audience made me respond yesterday on the ODNet list to a rant on so called soft skills. My response to someone’s e-mail, evoked a number of requests for my PowerPoint presentation (Contact me and I will gladly send you a copy).
This was my e-mail response:
Companies today have to manage a complex web of relationships with a variety of stakeholders in order to establish a lasting and favourable impression in the minds of those stakeholders. That reputation in turn influences buying behaviors, investment behaviors, and the attraction and retention of staff.
A Crucial word that is used in those circles are engagement.
In December last year I was asked to facilitate a day conference replacing another speaker on the topic Strategic Employee Engagement. So, I had to get up to speed with latest knowhow quickly, obviously I had some.
Some thoughts I shared with the audience:
What is Employee Engagement?
“The state of emotional and intellectual commitment of a person, group or organisation to the entity with whom they are employed.” Source: Hewitt
Engagement defined as “employees who are mentally and emotionally invested in their work and in contributing to their employer’s success.”
The Benefits of Employee Involvement & Engagement – Employee involvement makes sense because . . .
· They are closest to where the action is
· They tend to know the areas of greatest pain for themselves and for the stakeholder
· They have a vested interest in making the job go easier
· They want to feel good about the work that they do . . . that it makes a difference….
I concluded by stating that the Employee stakeholder can create enough reputation risk to cripple an organisation today. Managing that interface has become a strategic imperative.
*** I also went on to say during my presentation, that I have a lot more to share, but could not due to time constraints.
These thoughts cover the spectrum of communication, culture and traditional HR responsibilities but have a huge impact on engagement of the employee stakeholder.
So here goes:
Never in history have organisations had such a need to communicate effectively and consistently. We have laws on what to say to job candidates and how to deal with them and laws on what we must say to employees who are exposed to potential risks on the job. The problem is that all of these processes are mandatory and tries to institutionalize something which is based on trust, respect and caring.
We have many different tools at our disposal, but they all need a foundation from which to start.
The crucial prerequisite for Effective Employee Relations, Effective Engagement and communication is the creation of a positive organisational climate based on feelings of trust, confidence and openness.
This premise creates the foundation for effective engagement. To create the right conditions a successful communication policy should be developed and implemented in organisations that are built on management’s desire to:
2. Inform employees of organisational activities, problems and accomplishments.( Open Book Management Philosophy)
3. Encourage employees to provide input, information and feedback to management based on the experiences, creativity and insights.(PROPER suggestion schemes)
4. Level with employees about negative, sensitive or controversial issues.
5. Encourage frequent and honest job-related two-way communication among managers and their subordinates.
6. Communicate important events and decisions as quickly as possible to all employees.
7. Establish a climate where innovation and creativity are encouraged.
8. Have every manager and supervisor discuss with subordinates their progress and position in the firm.( Performance Management systems)
These principles stated above must be the underlying focus for any programme and should be embodied in a written document which becomes part of the organisation’s Policies and Procedures manual.
This takes time as communication is ongoing, not static – and people should take the time, to improve it. The problem is that the process of communication is so intertwined with all the other organisational problems that it therefore becomes difficult for managers to find out the real price they pay for lack of communication with their employees, because the price is part of what is not communicated.
The costs in lowered morale, lost sales, poor customer service, and lost market share often are attributed to increased global competition, rising input costs, and systems problems, rather than simple communication itself.
One reason for this failure to see communication problems as the cause of organisational problems is that we all understand ourselves perfectly. Therefore we assume that we have made ourselves clear, when all we have really done is make ourselves clear to ourselves.
And here is the fallacy – Effective Communication just does not happen on its own accord. It must be planned and scheduled. It must have task support. Someone in every organisation must manage it and support it and champion it. Strategies and systems must be co-ordinated and brought into alignment with an organisation’s goals and culture. And Communication is the glue that makes it possible.
Every organisation wants to enhance its performance. More and more, communication is being touted as the key. What organisations need are formal communication systems that play the following roles:
- Articulating and communicating the organisation’s goals, values, culture, and image;
- Defining and clearly explaining the roles and activities necessary to reach the organisation’s goals
- Interviewing and selecting the right people;
- Providing them with the necessary information and skills to do their jobs well;
- Giving feedback and coaching on individual and group performance;
- Creating a culture that nurtures open, honest, fair, and multi way flows of communication and collaboration;
- Collecting and analysing key performance indicators, strategic plans, and policies;
- Managing information flow rates to optimise an individual’s ability to use it ( e.g Training in financial literacy for instance);
- Establishing standards and policies so that internal and external communication is audited and aligned with organisational values and goals.
What is needed is a far more holistic approach to solving organisational problems and the problems of implementing improved employee practices or so called engagement of the employee stakeholder.
Investigating the role improved and enhanced communication practices can play is paramount to an organisation’s success. What are needed are managers and leaders that are prepared to tackle this age old problem. And that is the crux of the matter.
Ask yourself truthfully and honestly: "What breaks down more often than the photocopier or delivery vehicle?" Communication, of course. What must stop is rhetoric! Action speaks louder than words. Tackle communication problems in your organisation.
For my holiday reading I am currently busy with John Grisham’s The Associate.
In this book there is quite a detailed description of life in a huge law firm and the description of small cubicles as offices made me remember the analogy of work to a prison.
Work or Prison?
IN PRISON…you spend the majority of your time in an 8X10 cell.
AT WORK … you spend the majority of your time in a 6X8 cubicle.
IN PRISON…you get three meals a day.
AT WORK…you only get a break for one meal and you pay for it.
IN PRISON…you get time off for good behaviour.
AT WORK…you get more work for good behaviour.
IN PRISON…the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.
AT WORK…you must carry around a security card and open all the doors for yourself.
IN PRISON…you can watch TV and play games.
AT WORK…you get fired for watching TV and playing games.
IN PRISON…you get your own toilet.
AT WORK…you have to share with some idiot who pees on the seat.
IN PRISON…they allow your family and friends to visit.
AT WORK…you can’t even speak to your family on the phone.
IN PRISON…the taxpayers pay all expenses with no work required.
AT WORK…you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.
IN PRISON…you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out.
AT WORK…you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.
IN PRISON…you must deal with sadistic wardens.
AT WORK…they are called managers.