Employees want to know what direction they are going

Updated March 13, 2023 - 6:17 pm

If you ask people who love their job why they love their job, the word “direction” comes up a lot.

As in, working for an organization where everyone is headed in the same direction. It’s one of the hallmarks of a Top Workplace.

Take this feedback from employees, for example:

• “I believe in our company and the direction it is heading. I have a great team and supportive managers.”

• “I have fantastic leadership, and I love the direction the company is headed.”

• “I really like the work environment and direction the company is headed. I am often given praise and feel like I receive the tools I need to make every day a win.”

• “There is a great balance of direction, autonomy and vision provided to motivate me to do my best work and inspire those around me.”

At Top Workplaces, employees are more likely to embrace the direction set by senior leadership. Survey data shows 90 percent or more of employees react positively to the statement: “I believe this company is going in the right direction.”

Getting direction right is challenging. It requires a smart strategy and regular communication.

Senior leadership carries the responsibility to drive — and be accountable for — the chosen path. When done right, employees who believe in the direction of an organization will invest more of themselves in their work because they know it will make a difference.

Managers are critical to ensuring the company direction reaches front-line employees. They’re also responsible for helping employees understand how their team fits into the broader strategy.

A solid commitment to company direction depends on communication. Efforts to integrate company direction into a workplace culture are most successful when practiced across all levels of the organization.

Wonder how companies rally the troops regarding direction? Here’s how to get started:

• Make time to create a clear, concise and memorable direction statement.

• Clearly and repeatedly communicate the vision across all levels of the organization.

• Reinforce company-wide communications through team meetings and discuss how the company direction influences specific decisions.

• Make your organization’s direction visible throughout the workspace. Post it in meeting rooms, common areas, etc.

• Share stories and examples of company direction in action. Reinforce company direction in all communications.

Take direction to the next level:

• Schedule time with senior leaders to make sure actions align with direction.

• Request manager feedback on the company’s direction before finalizing strategic plans.

• Encourage managers to emphasize each team’s role in the organization’s direction.

• Identify and plan for quick wins as well as other milestones to ensure employees see that change is happening and that the ultimate goal is in reach.

Watch for these pitfalls:

• Senior leaders who believe they communicate about direction more than they really do.

• Silos that form as the result of leaders who are not aligned and committed to the company direction.

• Communication that falls apart between senior leaders and managers.

• Teams that ignore company direction and put their efforts into projects that don’t move the company forward.

• Leaders who expect human resources to drive company direction.

• When a lack of direction puts the organization in a reactive mode.

• Employees must understand the direction well enough to explain it to others. With their buy-in, you’ll see much greater effort and commitment.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is the survey partner for Nevada Top Workplaces.

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