by | Feb 25, 2020

What’s driving the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. to a new high? Gallup, which found engagement in 2019 to be a record 35 percent, identifies four themes that drive higher engagement in what they call high-performance cultures.

Gallup’s top theme: High-development cultures start at the top

The first of those four themes is that high-development cultures are CEO- and board-initiated. At Tribe, we’ve seen growing evidence of that in client companies across a wide range of industries.

When the CEO and other top leaders have a clear vision of the culture they want to drive, it becomes a priority for the rest of the company. It means time and energy and budgets are devoted to articulating, communicating and sustaining the company purpose and values, the why behind the company’s what, and an employer brand that reinforces why employees choose to work at this company instead of anywhere else.

Gallup’s definition of high-performance culture

Gallup describes this sort of culture in these terms: “The organization has a well-defined purpose and brand — why it exists and how it wants to be known. Everyone in the organization understands that employee engagement is a system for achieving unity of purpose and brand. Leaders explicitly connect engagement elements to their business issues. This means making engagement relevant to everyday work rather than an abstract brand.”

At Tribe, we talk about this in terms of aligning employees with the vision of the company. We want to help employees see how their individual roles support the success of that company vision, and to inspire them to use the values as guidance for the decisions they make and the actions they take in their day-to-day work. Engagement happens when employees get excited about their personal contributions.

Making the abstract real

In order to achieve those levels of engagement, all these cultural concepts, from vision to values and everything in between, have to be brought down to earth instead of presented as idealized concepts. That happens when we can present concrete examples of real employees using these principles in their actual work. That’s the role of internal communications, to make the abstract more human. (For more on that, see A Human Approach to Internal Comms.)

Identifying the gap between leadership’s vision and employee reality

When we engage with a new client, whether it’s to develop an employer brand, help with vision and values or communicate a major change initiative, we start with a process of discovery. First, we talk with the executive leadership, from the CEO to the CHRO. We want to understand both the specifics and the nuances of what they’re trying to create at their organization.

The next step is to talk with employees, to see where their heads are. Rarely do we find that employees’ reality is a perfect match with leadership’s desires. But when we understand where the gaps are, we can help to close the distance between the two. And that’s an important step to creating a high-performance culture.

Interested in building your high-performance culture? Tribe can help.

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