Have you noticed things around the office are a bit stagnant lately? How about your employees, do they seem a little less satisfied? Maybe your latest report about employee productivity showed the business could be a little more… productive?

If these sound familiar, you might consider launching a new cultural initiative, one that can help transform your culture and get your employees engaged again.

Unfortunately, your big initiative idea can go exactly nowhere if you don’t get the buy-in you need. And you will need a lot, from the employees you’re looking to inspire, the managers who will reinforce and guide the initiative day-to-day, and the executives who will release the budget to make it happen in the first place.

A 2008 survey of over 3,000 executives from McKinsey found that only one in three organizational change efforts succeed.

It’s not all that surprising to hear how many initiatives fall flat before they even begin. But what is it that makes one initiative more successful than another? Careful planning and understanding the needs of stakeholders, for starters. But these are almost guaranteed to be different. That’s why we emphasize communication, communication, and more communication.

First, a Word About the Executive Team

The first group that will need convincing is the executive team. They will need to approve your initial request. Executives will likely wish to know about the initiative’s value in terms of business goals. You’ll need to clearly and concisely make a connection between the initiative’s budget and expected return on that investment.

Make your argument even stronger by providing a realistic timeframe when they can expect to see change starting to happen!

For executives, communication needs to focus on the bottom line and real business goals. 

Your executives care about the long-term health of the business. Your job is to make sure they understand how the initiative will affect the company’s culture, and how culture affects the company’s longevity. That means not only profits but also how the initiative fits within the organization’s strategic vision.

Next Up: Management 

Once you’ve convinced your executives, you’ll need to get your management team onboard. Managers are your best link to employees. Any new initiative will need their dogged, determined, relentless support to succeed. Managers are the daily face of any initiative. They will encourage participation, share information, and gather feedback from employees.

The needs of your management team are different. So is the information they will need. Communication about how the initiative will improve employee engagement and help them meet goals is crucial.

Be prepared to answer these three big questions about your initiative.

  • How will the initiative improve employee engagement?
  • How will that improve service?
  • How will it improve productivity?

The Heart of Your Organization: Employees

You’ve made it this far – congratulations! You’ve got one final challenge: getting employees engaged with the new initiative.

Change can be challenging to embrace. To ask your employees to change, you need to clearly show how these changes will benefit them. The things your employees care about can vary wildly from the concerns of executives and management.

Employees may be more concerned with finding purpose in their work, or access to things that make work more comfortable. Any new initiative must be framed with these things in mind in addition to benefits to the organization.

Building Trust with Employees

The most important consideration for employee adoption is trust. Trust builds slowly but breaks quickly. Be very clear about the ‘why’ behind the initiative. Be transparent about how it will affect them and their role within the organization.

And don’t forget to ask for feedback! Feeling heard is a big component of maintaining trust and mutual respect. Once you’ve asked for the feedback, be prepared to take action on it.

For employee communication, it’s important to choose channels that are relevant. Once you discover these, maintain communications in a frequent pattern they can count on. Maybe that’s a weekly team meeting, or a monthly video from leadership to outline ongoing priorities and strategies. Whatever you choose, make sure employees know where, when, and how often to expect the communications. They will also need to know when and how to provide input and feedback.

Ready to Get Started?

Let’s get those employees engaged! If you have an idea and need assistance navigating communication challenges, contact Outlier today. Our team can help you identify, plan, and execute communications strategies and find success for your initiatives. 

About the Author

  • Kathleen drives Outlier's marketing communications strategy. She covers topics related to content strategy and content marketing and is only a little embarrassed to admit how many show tune lyrics she knows by heart.