Before I moved to Georgia, I only flew into the Atlanta airport every once in a while. When I did, I found it a bit scary and overwhelming as this airport is one of the busiest and largest in the entire world. There are people and activities everywhere, and you need to ride the internal train to get from gate to gate. I felt like a tiny spec traveling in the spacious atmosphere of the airport.
Now that I live in Georgia, I fly from the Atlanta airport all the time. What used to be an overwhelming experience has now become very comfortable and simply part of my travel routine. I have visited so often that I know what to expect at security, at the gates, at takeoff, at landing and in baggage claim. I can visualize and describe the entire experience in my head without being there. In fact, I have grown to like the airport because it is very organized and you can move quickly from place to place. (And it helps to have TSA pre check and the PF Changs restaurant at my disposal.)
I believe the experience of transforming something big, overwhelming and out of reach, to something attainable, understandable and comfortable is a key lever in improving employee satisfaction and engagement.
In most company settings the bulk of the employees are the ones working on the front lines day in and day out. Because of their roles, they may only interact with a small segment of the company population at any given time and tend to be focused on a particular set of tasks, not a big picture view. We may also have the challenge of working with employees dispersed all over the world, and/or employees working remotely from home.
Because of their roles and how the work flows, our front line team members may feel like I did when I first started traveling through the Atlanta airport.. like a tiny spec working within the large atmosphere of corporate America. They may have trouble visualizing in their heads, how they fit into the big picture and how their work directly links to the company strategy and results.
What is a leader to do? Help your employees “get their arms around” your company a.k.a. The GTAA Effect.
- Promote leadership visibility at every level. When you hear the phrase “management” spoken regularly on your team, you know there may be a problem. To employees, “management” is a nebulous group they can not picture in their head. Convert senior leaders from “strangers who sit in corner offices, drive expensive cars and travel first class” to regular people with families, hobbies, bills to pay etc. Help put faces with names.
- Convert corporate messaging into friendly, layman’s terms. Explain why and how the company results should matter to all employees. For example: We should really celebrate the fact that Company X exceeded its net revenue goal by 25%. This means that after we paid all of our bills, we have more funding available to invest in other things. This is the funding we use for employee training, new product development and even things like our merit increase budget”
- Commit to a regular cadence of communication that provides both a local and a cross-functional, big picture view. Determine a format, day and timing that employees can rely on. Consistency helps build trust.
- Encourage your team members to participate in site specific events and activities so they get “face time” with employees outside of their day to day comfort zone. Perhaps even organize some events that encourage networking across groups.
- Leverage shadowing. As a senior leader, I have the opportunity and advantage to be able to participate in a number of meetings and activities that allow me to see the big picture across the company. Why not invite high potential employees or highly influential employees to shadow senior leaders and/or to attend some of these meetings to gain first hand insight into what is happening. There is no need to worry that only a few employees will get to experience this. With the social media effect in play every day, a single employee experience can have an impact on 5, 10 or even 50 employees via electronic and in person sharing.
One of the most important competencies of any leader of people, is our ability to influence and improve employee satisfaction and engagement. As I heard in a recent customer experience conference, “Your customer experience can never exceed your employee experience”. Happy employees, lead to happy customers and should ultimately lead to happy investors and shareholders. The GTAA Effect is a key lever in making these employee experience improvements.
Do you have any other tips to drive the GTAA Effect? Please add them to the comments section.