How to create an inspired workforce: Inspire


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This is the eighth, and final, post in a series aimed at supporting the efforts of leaders, managers, and supervisors to create an inspired workforce.

In summary, the first seven steps are to 1.) discover the total job role, which consists of both job functions (duties & tasks) and job essence (purpose; single highest priority at work), 2.) articulate the answers to the Four Questions that will establish and reinforce direction, priorities, and standards (i.e., True North) for you and your team, 3.) uncover the higher purpose of the job role, 4.) reveal corporate ideals to employees at all levels of the organization, 5.) connect daily work activities to the higher purpose of the organization/job role and core values, 6.) operationalize purposeful actions and behaviors for consistency, and 7.) evaluate results by tracking, measuring, and then correlating lead indicators/KPIs with lag indicators/KPIs.

Here’s the final step in the series to create an inspired workforce: 8. Inspire performance, camaraderie, and engagement.

Real, lasting inspiration doesn’t come from a speech by the regional vice president, a corporate campaign, or a gift card. The key to inspiring performance, camaraderie, and engagement is workforce alignment. I’d like to take credit for this idea but there have been many before me who championed this notion.

Leadership expert Jim Collins said, “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.”

I’ve spent the last several weeks (and seven blog posts) detailing one approach to creating an inspired workforce that is aligned around its mission, vision, purpose, and core values. To build a team that is unified and “on the same page” requires that leaders do the yeoman’s work to lay a foundation from which camaraderie, mutual trust, and support spring. This means becoming familiar with the two dimensions of every job role: job functions (job knowledge and job skills) and job essence (job purpose). It requires that you are fluent in organizational purpose and committed to initiating ongoing conversations about how job purpose and core values link to employees’ real world of work. These conversations must permeate all levels of the organization.

Once the foundational work is done, it’s important to sustain the purpose-driven momentum. One way I’ve seen organizations accomplish this is to develop a rallying cry—a pithy statement that captures the essence of the organization’s character and purpose and unites the team in its pursuit of a common aspirational goal. (Think of Mel Gibson’s character, William Wallace, in Braveheart when he shouted, “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” This could be summed-up in the rallying cry “Freedom!”)

Other examples I’ve seen from corporations that could qualify as rallying cries are: “Save Lives” (Grail), “Beat Yesterday” (Garmin), “Make Cancer History” (MD Anderson Cancer Center), “Think Different” (Apple), “Just Do It” (Nike), “Compromise Elsewhere” (Boar’s Head meats), “Belong Anywhere” (Airbnb), and “Built to Last” (Ford).

Early in my career, I worked for a hotel general manager who championed the phrase “Absolute Customer Satisfaction.” This was adopted as the hotel’s rallying cry and served to inspire camaraderie and customer focus. With this mantra visible throughout employee areas in the hotel (e.g., back aisle, cafeteria, human resources) and even serving as the title of the hotel newsletter, it became unnatural to allow a customer to wait, a line to form, or a phone to ring without responding with a sense of urgency. The entire team, both guest contact employees and those working in support roles, was united in its mission, and inspired to deliver absolute customer satisfaction.

Thank you for engaging with this blog series. I’m confident that you, your team, customers, and business will benefit from the ideas presented. While this is the final blog post in the series, the entire thesis is unpacked in my latest book, The Revelation Conversation: Inspire Greater Employee Engagement by Connecting to Purpose. I also post here, on my blog, about topics related to this series. I hope you’ll return for those posts. In the meantime, feel free to drop questions or feedback in the comments.

Illustration by Aaron McKissen.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


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