At the end of what has been another crazy year, with all the services to schedule, SOP’s to improve, planning, organizing, the downtime you should be taking, and so on, does the thought of taking time to talk about how IMPORTANT getting clear on and “Sharing your Why Before the How” seem to be a bit… senseless?
DOES THIS “SOFT” STRATEGIC STUFF EVEN MATTER?
From my experience, the short, long and everything between answer seems to be… YES, IT DOES!
Author, sought-after keynote speaker and co-owner of Zingerman’s, Ari Weinzweig wrote,
“We can go through the motions, work hard in the day-to-day, but have a difficult time deciding what to really do. We lose energy, we feel spiritually exhausted, and we gradually grow depressed. Life will continue on apace. But it will likely be lacking.”
So, if we want people to think like owners, if we want our staff to engage and take action and if we want people to feel a sense of purpose at even a fraction of the sense of purpose you yourself feel as the owner . . . then Sharing the Why definitely has a critical role to play.
Your well-crafted and regularly communicated “Why” is what’s needed to help better decision-making for ALL you do in business. It offers clarity on what to do even when there’s no SOP; a way to step into most any situation when we’re struggling and things feel like they are going off the rails. When being followed, your “Why” should make you feel as though in that moment your focus is being drawn away from the everyday problems and directed at the opportunities. You need that… and so do your employees.
It is my sincere hope that something shared here connects and encourages you to “Share Your Why” as part of your overall Strategic Plan.
HOW ENGAGED ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES?
If you are not familiar, Gallup® delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Their findings are aimed at helping business leaders optimize their attraction, retention, engagement and performance strategies in a time of extraordinary change. They hold the largest collection of employee opinionated information and claim to know more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.
The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are what Gallup calls engaged at work. They love their jobs and make their organization and America better every day.
At the other end of the statistics above 16% of employees are actively disengaged — they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged — they’re just there.
Underlying all of this is an evolving employee attitude about what a job should and should not be. Most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations. They want their work to have meaning and purpose. They want to use their talents and strengths to do what they do best every day. They want to learn and develop. They want their job to fit their life. The modern workforce knows what’s important to them and isn’t going to settle. Employees are willing to look and keep looking for a company that’s mission and culture reflect and reinforce their values. They have seemingly unlimited resources to help them conduct their job searches — far beyond classified ads and their immediate professional networks. And as the job market has been opening up, employees have been feeling increasingly optimistic about what they’re finding. A record 47% of the workforce says. Now is a good time to find a quality job, and more than half of employees (51%) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings.
WHAT IS THE “WHY” ANYWAY?
From what I can tell, it would seem that in some way all businesses exist to improve the lives of the people they come into contact with. I say lives” because there is no business that exists that affects only one person. Even a one-man show with one client contains two parts of a whole and that whole consists of two varying reasons that each has to consider in order to create win/win relationships. To that end, I would say that the need to Share the Why becomes ever more prevalent as you grow and add more people into your business.
At Creative Roots Landscaping, the company I founded 27 years ago, that deep driving force lives within our Mission Statement alongside some other very basic, but incredibly important, questions:
- What do we do?
We deliver an out-of-the-ordinary experience. The landscapes, the service, the staff, the training, the sharing, the fun . . . they all go into making the experience.
- Who do we do it for?
We strive every day for ourselves, our suppliers, our customers, and all who we encounter while out in the community.
- Who is the “we” doing it?
We are Servant Leaders. We are Matt, Tyler, Gurpreeth, Zach N, Colette, Ryan, Jacob, and many other ordinary and not-so-ordinary people.
- Why do we do it?
We believe that running a business in an inclusive and transparent way will in turn bring about an opportunity for us to share many of the great things life has to offer.
The answers to these questions put together and well-used create an undeniably clear statement that, from the get-go, helps us all mindfully choose to play the game the way it needs to be played as we see it, or go play elsewhere. Agreeing to being a part of, and contributing to, the Mission is ALL of our jobs to do.
So what is the Creative Roots Mission? I’ll share it here, not because it is perfect or it might work for you but more so because it is the one that has helped us guide our ship for almost three decades and it is deeply meaningful to us.
Creative Roots delivers exceptional experiences at every interaction. Guided by our values, we are building a great business with people who share our drive for excellence and cherish the many rewards that accompany working in an inclusive way: Exciting challenges, Camaraderie and Friendships, Sense of Purpose, Feelings of Accomplishment, Profits and so much more.
HOW “WHY” CAN CHANGE THE MINDSET
Ari Weinzweig explains it this way:
“By using the Mission Statement to override all else, we can make it clear that the real job for every person is to deliver great Zingerman’s experiences to those around them.
That preempts the all-to-common “that’s not my job” that you hear in most organizations. The quality of the experience is everyone’s job. Job title, age, experience, position on the organizational chart, etc. . . . all are completely irrelevant. We’re each fully responsible for making sure that each individual we come into contact with is going to have a great experience. Period. First day on the job, last day on the job, managing partner or part-time dishwasher, we all have the same mission.”
Being unclear as to “WHY” you do what you do can lead to a free-for-all that unconsciously creates silos between people.
SHARING THE WHY BEFORE THE HOW
It took me many years to realize that the business was doing more for me emotionally than it was for my employees. Why? Because I was always focused on the how. How can I motivate, how can we get this and that done, how can we find the right people. What I was missing was one of the most important tools that in turn helps answer those questions.
You see, I knew my “Why” and I bet at an intrinsic, primal, level you do as well. I bet we both used it to push ourselves, thinking that was all that was needed to succeed. It’s not much of a stretch for me now to believe that had I outwardly used my “Why” to align with others with similar mindsets along the way, all the great things we have done to date could have been that much greater!
Granted, there have been many times where sharing my “WHY” with employees would have made no difference at all . . . but what about the ones for whom it would have? What is 1, 2, 3, 10, 15, 20 engaged employees worth to you and your business over 1, 2, 3, 10, 15 or 20 years? I bet you don’t want to do the math!
CALL TO ACTION
I would like to suggest that it would be far wiser to consider my thoughts in this article a Call to Action rather than a single solution to the problems we all regularly face in business. For some, a starting point, and for others a guide to help adjust strategies already in place through important conversations that are needed to make positive and sustainable change. One thing is for certain; leaders cannot sit back and do nothing. They cannot wait for trends to pass them by, and they cannot wait for millennials to get older and start behaving as baby boomers do. That won’t happen. This workforce isn’t going to give in to the status quo. There’s an urgency for leaders to define and communicate their vision more clearly — and rally employees around it.
Can you clearly articulate your “Why?”
Next up . . .
Step 3 – Open the books… OPEN BOOK MANAGEMENT as part of The Great Game of Business.
Through my experiences, I have been fascinated by business and all it offers to improve people’s lives. From working on the shovel, business visioning, and everything in between, to now sharing my experiences through personalized coaching services, my goal is to help other owners work on their business, increase profits, and have more time for themselves while finding enjoyment along the way.
Completing my recent Great Game of Business coaching certification has helped me realize that it’s been our commitment over the last 14 years to the fundamentals of The Great Game system (the basis of which is that the information received by employees should not only help them do their jobs effectively but help them understand how the company is doing as a whole) that has helped us become what we are today.
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