Macro Influence Factors: Setting Strategy Isn't Enough
This is the second series about the influence ecosystem.
Last week, we introduced the influence ecosystem and discussed how it answers the question of “who is responsible for fostering or damaging engagement in any organization?”
We discussed at a high level the macro-level influence, the micro, and the meso level influences. But here, we will dig deeper into the macro-level influence.
As a reminder, the macro influence is the culture that's created at the top of the organization. Senior leaders and CEOs set the tone for how an entire organization feels from a cultural standpoint.
The way that senior leaders and CEOs show up to set the tone for the macro culture is fundamental in two ways:
Strategy and behavior.
Let's talk about strategy first.
The way senior leaders set the vision, the mission, and the overarching strategic goals of the organization has a significant influence on how employees feel they can connect to the organization.
Do employees buy into how a company is operating?
Do they feel connected to the way they're serving their clients or their customers?
Do they understand how their role specifically impacts the organization's overall success?
These are important ways senior leaders set the tone from a strategy standpoint so employees feel connected and therefore engaged when they show up to work every day.
Still, setting the strategy isn't enough.
You should be conveying the what, why, and how regularly. Not once. Not once a year, but on a regular, consistent basis. If you're not conveying these important points to your people, your employees are going to lack a deep connectedness to the mission, vision, and focus. They need to see and hear it from you on a regular basis.
An example of how a senior leader can set the influence from a strategy standpoint around the macro influence is to have regular communication. Maybe it's through town halls. Maybe through video updates you send out to remote organizations or multi-location organizations.
If senior leaders are conveying where things stand and where things are going, then employees know they're not just working with no end goal in sight. They understand they are working towards a clear goal.
We hear this from organizations all the time. Employees are constantly saying, “We're just onto the next thing all the time. I never hear how things have gone. I never hear how my project played out or impacted the organization. We're constantly sprinting on to the next thing without being able to stop, pause and hear from our senior leaders the impact of the work that we're doing on a daily basis.”
Without that understanding, from the employee standpoint, they'll lose their sense of purpose and passion in small ways. But the small ways will eventually pile up to something big over time.
The organization has the strategy, the direction, and the impact of the work employees are regularly doing. Perhaps more importantly, the behavior of senior leaders is going to energize your workforce.
If you walk the talk and celebrate others who do so, you're creating a culture of excellence, accountability, and positivity. Individual employees are going to rally behind that kind of culture.
When senior leaders model the behavior of their core values and show up everyday to acknowledge, support, and recognize individual team members, they create a culture of connectedness, where individual employees feel valued, respected and can respect those who lead them.
So let's step back.
The macro influence is a factor we measure in CultureID. In all of our global data, we see that macro influence is actually the lowest scoring of our three influence factors between macro, meso, and micro. More than the other two factors, individual employees struggle to feel connected to senior leaders in an organization.
This makes sense.
Senior leaders have a lot of things they need to be tackling. They have stakeholders they answer to. They are responsible for the livelihood of their individual employees. They're ultimately responsible for the success of the organization. They've got a lot of things on their plate.
But when individual employees don't feel connected to you, you're losing a significant amount of discretionary effort from your people. Discretionary effort is a term that describes whether individual employees give you more than they have to when they show up to work every day.
Employees know how much they have to work in order to not feel like somebody is going to call them out for not doing their job well. Discretionary effort takes that baseline level of effort and increases it to whatever level they want to bring every single day to help your organization succeed.
The more employees feel connected to you as senior leaders in an organization, the more discretionary effort you are going to get. When we're looking at our macro influence data, the lowest scoring question inside the CultureID engagement survey is “This organization celebrates employee accomplishments regularly.”
Celebration is a hallmark of a connected and engaged organization.
When individual employees feel like they can rally behind one another and have their accomplishments acknowledged and celebrated, they feel more connected to and motivated by the work they do every day.
Some of the comments from the employees who take our CultureID survey say things like, “celebration happens in my small team, but across the organization it's not happening. Senior leaders don't acknowledge who I am.” They'll say, “True accomplishments, promotions, and milestones aren't celebrated in this organization.”
Accomplishments, milestones, promotions. These are areas employees want to feel seen. They want to feel connected. If you step up to celebrate those things in small or big ways, you are immediately helping your employees feel connected.
Here's a couple of ways you can do it.
We have a lot of channels of communication now that we haven't had in the past decade of work. No matter where your employees work, you can connect. In-person meetings may be possible for you, or you can go virtual - Slack Teams, Zoom, email, etc. You have any number of ways to communicate with and celebrate your employees.
Every month, send out some form of communication.
Highlight the biggest accomplishments you've seen over the past month. Recognize that you're not going to know all of them. There's a lot that happens in an organization throughout the day, week, month, and you're not going to catch every milestone or accomplishment inside the company. That's where creating a culture of celebration is important.
Acknowledge individuals, teams, and projects that went well over the last month. Then, ask others to contribute. Have your senior leaders and individual managers jump in and highlight employees by name who are excelling inside the organization, not just in what they accomplish but also how they do it.
Don't just highlight job success. Highlight behavior success as well.
How are individuals inside the organization showing up? How are they modeling your core values? How are they supporting one another? If you recognize and celebrate accomplishments around behavior, performance, and attitude, you’ll create a powerful macro culture for the entire organization.
Here's a second tip for strong macro cultures - which is most important for organizations that are entirely remote, hybrid, or have multiple locations: Show your leader.
Being able to see another person, especially a leader, inside the organization is a significant way for our brains to feel safe and connected. Looking at another person in the face, even if it's virtual, helps us feel connected to the other person.
One of the easiest ways for a senior leader to create that sense of connectedness, in large or small organizations, is by using video regularly. Record short videos and send them to your employees so individuals can see you, hear your voice, and connect with your messages of vision, guidance, and recognition.
Whether they spend face time with you or not, employees need to hear your voice, see your face, and listen to recognition of themselves and others, to feel a deeply ingrained sense of connection to you and the organization as a whole.
How would you describe the macro influence, the macro culture inside your organization?
If you're a senior leader, you have an incredible opportunity to lead and support every employee who shows up in your workforce every single day.
We would love to help you measure and understand the macro culture inside your company, so you know the specific things that you can do to better foster and facilitate a healthy and thriving workforce.
Reach out if you have any other questions. We're here to help.