The Leadership Collective

Remember when companies were run as dictatorships? We simply cannot do that anymore. There are too many people in too many places with too much work to be done. Nowadays, one man or woman cannot run a start-up -- let alone a global corporation.

In the past, while formulating an employee engagement strategy I would often hear, "The CEO wants it that way, so that's the way we are going to do it." Today, the CEO-centric program may be the very thing that drives tomorrow's talent away.

So now what do we do? Raising commissions is not enough. Designing cool technology is only a launching pad. Nope... we want a piece of the pie!

How to Get in Their Heads

We did a survey; there was a focus group three years ago, and then there is the obligatory town hall meeting. I've heard it all in my time of HR consulting. Surveys don't work unless they create actionable data (followed by executive action). Focus groups don't work if you only choose to hear from your top performers. Town halls are great for people who are opinionated, but they are seldom your greatest source of insight.

What if you interviewed every member of your staff? What if you asked those who are struggling why they are struggling? What if your CEO engaged individuals instead of groups?

There is no such thing as a turnkey culture. Employee engagement is not something you create with a widget. You have to actively infiltrate your organization from every angle. When you are done with your series of executive interviews, ask a manager. Then poll your employees. Only with hard data from the mouths of your people can you truly understand how to fix your culture. Your culture will always need fixing.

One-to-One Doesn't Work Anymore

People don't fear feedback. In fact, they want more of it. The concept of one person deciding another person’s fate at a company (as the only line of progress) is infantile at best. People don't leave companies, they leave managers. A lot of managers are failing, and you may not know it, because they are protecting their leadership inefficiencies in the silos of the performance review culture.

While enterprise technology may not be the entire answer, it is a launching pad. You can keep your employees off Facebook if you have a super cool "internal Facebook." Failing managers may need some coaching, and bringing performance management into the enterprise is a great way to create collective feedback. If you don't respect your manager (that's happening everywhere), isn't it better to have other avenues for development.


Are we afraid to break down silos because we are afraid to hear the truth about our fractured culture?  Do we think addressing employee opinion will create more work? If we are so opposed to hear feedback from our staff, then why did we hire them?

There is no technology that will create employee engagement. We cannot hire a vendor to make our people more productive. No amount of money will create 100 percent employee satisfaction.

Everyone has to pull up their sleeves and accept their part of the leadership mission. If everyone is aligned to a vision, we can build something that matters.

Warning: It will be difficult! Anything worth doing is difficult! Stop wasting time pretending, and get your paws dirty. The honey tastes sweeter when you tackle the hive together!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave Kovacovich

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