How well is your organization performing against strategic objectives? Have those objectives changed since the recession kicked into high gear? Can your employees articulate those objectives? Do they have any idea how their daily work impacts the achievement of those objectives?

In my experience, very few line employees can even cite the company’s objectives, much less articulate how their work helps in achieving them. But it has never been more urgent for every employee to understand precisely this connection. As I recently said in an HRO Today article on Boosting Engagement in Difficult Economic Times:

“Forward-thinking organizations should refocus, inspire, and encourage their workforces through cost-effective strategic recognition. These programs must go far beyond annual cash bonuses or performance increases to include frequent, ongoing rewards given throughout the year for a job well done. During a down economy when companies need employees to give more discretionary effort to achieve critical objectives, strategic recognition specifically rewards actions and behaviors that align with company values and help to achieve those objectives, encouraging employees to repeat precisely those behaviors needed for the organization to succeed. Rewards can also be given peer to peer so that everyone can share in the process of noticing, celebrating, and encouraging good work.”

Hewitt Associates’ Scott Cohen agreed in last month’s Human Resources Executive, saying:

“Rewards are often clear in many caring professions, where professionals see the results of their work. But rewards can be harder to distinguish in large organizations unless management focuses on communicating goals and showing employees how their work adds value, both to the company and to others’ lives.

“Make sure everybody understands, especially in the challenging times we’re in right now, the direction that [the company is] taking. There’s a difference between the value statement from the plaque on the wall versus translating that to the employee level and what that means to you.”

Suzanne Bates, author of the new book Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act, truly gets it as well. Her suggestions to praise and recognize your people while communicating constantly and consistently are central to motivation in this economy. As she has said:

“Managers and executives must find non-monetary ways to keep their teams motivated, and to inspire them to achieve goals and objectives with fewer people and less funding. This makes it even more important for leaders to be out in front of employees as much as possible, continually communicating and making personal connections with them.”

What are you communicating most consistently with your employees? What you need them to do to make the company successful or what you don’t need them to do with no bigger picture connotation? How are you communicating that – positively or negatively? How successful are your efforts? And back to my original questions — Can your employees articulate those objectives? Do they have any idea how their daily work impacts the achievement of those objectives?

Derek Irvine, Globoforce

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