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MENTORING MATTERS |

Three Ways Leadership Can Transform a Disengaged Culture


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Have you ever been part of an organization that didn’t feel right? Like everyone was doing the bare minimum and it didn’t feel like people were working toward the same goals? It could be the result of a disengaged organizational culture — and it could be costing you significantly. According to Gallup, 18% of employees who are actively disengaged cost around $500 billion in lost productivity each year.

Bottom line, leaders do not want an unproductive team to impact their organization, and no one benefits from a company culture that is disengaged. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, more than 70% of transformation efforts to change organizational culture fail. So, if your culture has shifted and employees are tuning out, how can your leadership team drive a successful culture transformation?

1. Communicate

One of the biggest issues that results in a disengaged culture is that leadership is not communicating effectively. As leaders, they may be communicating with each other, but the message may not be making it to front-line employees. As a result, employees may end up feeling disengaged and disconnected from the organization. 

What can leadership do to solve this? Communicate early and often! Communicating regularly with employees increases trust, and, according to the “2019 Edelman Trust Barometer,” trust is essential to building an engaged workforce.

When nothing’s going on, communicate. When pushing a major change, communicate at the outset and overshare with employees. We know you, as leaders, can’t always share the details, but at a minimum, leaders should be the lead communicators for any type of organizational change. The bigger the change, the more strategic the communication plan should be. Employees will react more positively to the change if they know in advance exactly what impact it will have on them.

2. Share Your Grand Plan

What is the business working toward and how are you going to get there? These are questions that all employees want answered so they can better understand where they fit into the bigger picture.

According to “The Workplace Accountability Study” by Partners in Leadership, “85% of employees are not even sure what their organizations are trying to achieve.” How can employees get behind a mission when they’re not even sure what it is? It’s the job of the leadership team to clearly communicate the company’s overarching goal and help employees connect the dots for how their work can make an impact.

3. Listen

Tune into what employees are saying. Are your efforts to shift organizational culture actually helping? If your efforts are yielding positive results, stay the course. If you’re not getting the results you hoped for, take time to course correct.

Listening can be done in a number of ways. Leadership teams love the data points surveying is able to provide, whether it’s a large-scale annual survey or a three-question pulse survey. Asking the same questions year over year allows you to benchmark where you are and how your engagement scores have changed over time.

Open-door policies and leadership talkback sessions work as well. Set up times during which employees feel free to communicate how they feel the organization is doing and where they have concerns. Make sure what’s being communicated is captured and shared with the leadership team so follow-up actions can be taken as necessary. By taking the time to listen to employees, you can ensure that your message is being heard and understood.

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Kat_MobleyKatharine Voyles Mobley is the chief marketing officer of First Advantage.