Do you walk up straight into your office, or do you pace in with your head dragging against the floor? How do your company and/or product affect your employee engagement? And how are your values influencing your pride? Being proud of what you do is important to most people doing a hard days job. But can pride be fabricated? Can you choose to be proud?
Interesting observation, I do think lack of pride is your “fault” – what you have failed to do is to work in a company where your values are being met. You can’t work for a polluting company if you are an environmentalist. You can’t sell crap products if you want to keep your integrity. You cannot trick people if you are a very honest person. So why do you stay if you are not proud of what you do? This gives a huge challenge for the employer as happy employees are productive employees.
How can the companies and leaders help to retain and grow proud employees?
I guess the keyword I am looking for here is values. The companies need to create the company DNA. You might think: “Yeah I have seen that pamphlet before” and man you are right. Creating values demand more work than printing a set of values on a piece of paper. The employees need to be given the freedom to follow your new values. If your company wants to be known for quality service, you need employees equipped to provide this service – and remove policies that get in the way.
Confused? I leave the responsibility to the company to make proud employees, but at the same time I blame the employees for not being proud? I still claim that you can’t choose to be proud. Being proud of your company/product/service is so important, that if you fail at being proud, you should consider looking for another job.
Being Proud 3D
To get inspiration today, I started to draw on a piece of paper. As you can see below a great product is not enough, a good company or brand is not enough, or great employees alone does not create pride in a work place. So values needs to be aligned in the company DNA, reflected in the product/service and the employees. So this brings me back to your responsibility as an employee, if your true values fail to be aligned with the rest, you will end up unhappy. That is why you need to find another job if you can.
Being proud in 1 out of 3 circles will not make you a happy employee. And even 2 out of 3 is trouble. You can love your co-workers and the company (1) – But your product is hard to sell, you have unhappy customers and you buy the same products from your competitors. You might promote your products in a negative context to friends and family. But if you love your co-workers and your product (2) but your company is investing heavily in polluting industries and act in a way that embarrass you. This might result in you being disloyal and start looking for a new job. And you need great co-workers (3) who is aligned with your, the company’s and product values. Having boring co-workers is actually something you might be able to influence by starting to have more fun yourself.
Proud Office and Product Pride Part 2.
One of the main drivers for unhappy employees can be related to pride. Pride being a feeling related to value alignment. So in order to build an employee engaged driven organization you need to address several frontiers in your plans. In this part I will try to get more in detail.
I will use green values and environment friendly being a value to set an example. In this example being green is the next big thing.
Is your company environmental friendly? Do you use local food in your canteen? Do you recycle? Are you trying to reduce the use of printed documents and papers? How is this important when selecting partners and suppliers? Does your company donate to environmental friendly activities?
But being an environmentalist oriented company is a hoax if your product pollutes? Is your product recyclable, how about chemicals? Where is it produced? How are your producers working with these values? How can you aid your factories to become environmental friendly?
What kind of employees would this company prefer? – The guy driving to the job interview in a SUV or the guy riding a bike or using public transportation? What kind of employees would be proud of working for a company who holds strong clear green values?
The Pamphlets are printed, now what?
Ok, since you had a fancy value meeting at a mountain cabin somewhere, you should at least be able to print your damn pamphlets. Now put them in the recycle bin and realize your fault, be ashamed for a little and arrange a meeting with your staff instead. Now you might have polluting production lines, you might have been using a lot of paper at your office or your employees each drive their own gasoline monster to work. How do you change? Change management is a whole different chapter so I will skip to where you have already engaged the employees on the idea… You realize that you have a polluting product – now what? (Do you stop production? Can employees make this decision for themselves?) – What you need to create is a “what if, then” analysis. Employees need to know what to do, according to your values. To give you a starter: Think: What needs to be done in order to solve this problem and being true to our new values? – What is an employee turn down a customer, supplier or close down a production line? Or recall a product from the market? Some employees end up losing jobs for “doing insane things that cost money” But now they might reply with “but it is pollution” – You need to know how to act as a leader and being true to the new values. The values are like a compass guiding your company in the direction of your vision.
Build a greater meaning.
Yes, your company is about making money. We all know that. Your employees for sure know that THEY are the ones generating your fat pay check. What is a greater meaning for a company? I have read about companies that only hire former jailbirds. I have heard about companies that only staff their cubicles with unemployed people, and if you have a job, you do not need to apply. I have read about business leaders leading protests against the government. I have read about employees and companies that helped build schools in developing countries. WHY? Why are you in business? What do you want to achieve? What is your dent in the universe? You build a tribe by creating a common goal.
How about the employees that don’t fit in?
What if one of your employees really doesn’t give a shit about the environment? Se the first paragraph, this employee is doomed to be unhappy at one point. Either you need to change his perception, or you need to help him find another job. It is this easy. You also need to find out how you can support your employees in their value adjustments. You might give them passes to public transport for free? Be creative.
Proud employees depend on several factors. You need to align them all to be according to your values. “Pride” is not a value for your pamphlet it is a result of your company, your staff and products/service being aligned in a common understanding.
Thank you for reading.