This post is the fourth in a series devoted to creating an inspired workforce. I will share additional posts over the coming weeks to support leaders, managers, and supervisors in this effort.
In summary, the first three steps are 1.) to discover the total job role, which consists of both job functions (duties & tasks) and job essence (purpose; single highest priority at work), 2.) to 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, and 3.) uncover the higher purpose of the job role.
Here’s the next step to create an inspired workforce: 4. Reveal corporate ideals to employees at all levels of the organization.
Once you’ve done the work to grasp the total job role, answer each of the Four Questions, and isolate the higher purpose of the job role, you must be able to convey this information to every member of your team. Most corporate guiding statements and core values don’t have a meaningful impact on the experiences of employees (or customers) for the simple reason that they are largely unknown. Sure, they may appear on a plaque in the executive corridor or poster in the break room, but they are often not a part of employees’ real world of work.
Typically, when managers speak about mission, vision, purpose, and core values (which is seldom, and usually confined to the onboarding process or annual all-employee rally), it’s abstract, conceptual, and disconnected from employees’ daily work activities. There is an opportunity for every leader, manager, and supervisor to bridge the gap between these higher ideals and the employee’s day-to-day work experience.
One way to accomplish this is to initiate a conversation, individually, with each direct report to reveal these tenets, connect them to the real world of work, and leverage this conversation to add meaning, inspire performance, and evoke esprit de corps. I call this conversation a Revelation Conversation.
I like to open with this question: “Would you describe for me, from your perspective, your job role—what your job entails?”
Most likely they will provide a list dominated by job functions (the duties and tasks associated with their job role). In my experience, there is rarely any mention of job purpose or actions and behaviors that reflect that purpose.
Accepting responsibility for the incomplete view of their job role, I might respond, “That’s an impressive list of job responsibilities. All those things are important and necessary. But if that’s how you would describe your total job role, then I have explained your job role to you incompletely. Those job functions are only one aspect of your job role. The other dimension is job essence.”
“What is job essence?” they may ask.
“Job essence is the most significant aspect of your job role. It’s the actions and behaviors that reflect the higher purpose of your job role.”
“What’s that?” they may ask.
“The higher purpose of your job role is (for example) to surprise and delight guests.”
“Besides what I’m already doing, what else can I do?” they may ask.
The conversation that follows might just be the most valuable use of your time at work. Revelation Conversations are a great opportunity to reveal and reinforce:
- Job purpose
- Corporate ideals (mission, vision, organizational purpose, and core values)
- Company culture
- Performance standards
- Purposeful actions and behaviors (e.g., expressing genuine interest, sharing unique knowledge, providing pleasant surprises)
- Customer expectations
- Brand standards
- Key performance indicators (KPIs)
- The team’s aspirational goal
The beauty of the Revelation Conversation is in its flexibility and uniqueness. No two conversations will sound alike. There is no rigid script that must be committed to memory and followed. Instead, look at the Revelation Conversation as you would any framework or guide that supports your efforts to achieve some coaching objective. Consider it a plan or an approach to managing performance, the absence of which would force you to wing it, unsupported and unprepared.
Initiating a Revelation Conversation forces you revisit and internalize the organization’s mission, vision, or purpose statement. You must also review the company’s core values and, further, interpret their meaning and apply them to the actions, behaviors, and decision-making representative of the company’s culture. This investment of your time will pay off in many ways.
- Reinforce performance standards
- Inspire others to realize their potential at work
- Raise expectations and challenge others professionally
- Demonstrate support for others’ success
- Reflect openness and honesty in communication
- Show personal interest in others
- Build relationships
- Convey that you are a purpose-driven leader
A Revelation Conversation bridges the gap between an abstract notion of why the company exists, what it stands for, and where it’s headed, and a tangible purpose, set of core values, and aspirational goal—and the actions and behaviors that will bring them to life.
In the next blog post in the series, I’ll share an activity that will prompt you and your team to identify these actions and behaviors and apply them to enhance the employee and customer experience. I hope you’ll return for that post. In the meantime, feel free to drop questions or share feedback in the comments.
Image credit: Scott Preator