This is Part 1 of a 3 part article on how to enable for employees to be successful in their work. This is a very high level case study as, in agreement with the client, much has been disguised or eliminated in order to ensure client confidentiality.
The ability for employees to be successful relies significantly on leadership in the organization. Success can mean many different things. For the purposes of this article, success is being defined as enabling employees:
- To be innovative in how they approach completing their assignments
- To have regular learning opportunities
- To collaborate and share knowledge
- To contribute to the success and health of the organization
- To be empowered to be the best they can within the organization
The best leaders I have seen among my clients are those that enable for employees to be successful within the organization. These are the leaders who surround themselves with strong, intelligent employees; employees who think differently than they do and will challenge leadership as well as assumptions made.
The smartest leaders – those whose organizations are exceptionally successful and attract and retain the best talent – do not make all the decisions within the organization. They rely on feedback from employees and encourage employees to speak up and share their thoughts and opinions.
Case Study Background
I was talking with a client about six months ago – a VP of HR for a 10 year old organization. He mentioned to me that a new CEO joined the organization along with a few other new executive leadership members. In fact, investors in the business had replaced a number of the executive leadership members because they felt significant changes were needed at the top for the organization to be successful. The VP of HR, as well as the investors, wanted me to come in to the organization to meet with the executives for a 3 hour session on business planning, with a focus on problem solving. The problem – how to re-engage employees in the organization. The past executive team, unfortunately, had disengaged employees through a number of decisions they made that, while appearing beneficial to the organization, further complicated the work done by employees. Many of the decisions placed employees in roles for which they were not qualified, nor interested, and did not provide them any support or training to be successful. Nor were explanations given for the decisions. In fact, the VP of HR noted that when one senior level employee asked his boss what was going on, he was told that leadership made decisions and his job was to implement those decisions. Needless to say this didn’t sit well with the senior level employee.
About one month after this incident, the senior level employee left to join a competitor. In addition to his leaving, a number of other key employees left. Many of the individuals who left, including a few in mid-level leadership roles, were essential to new product development. The company was beginning to see the impact on the bottom line when the investors decided enough was enough and decided to step in to correct the situation.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll share how we prepared for the 3 hour session with the executives.