The Workforce Revolution® has begun. Awakened by the reveille of employee discontent, heralded by a chorus of resignations and a massive recruitment problem, companies found themselves ill-equipped to re-engage the troops. Leaders struggled to keep everyone in formation while the remaining loyal yet burned-out workforce struggled to carry the load of their AWOL colleagues.
Initially, when the Workforce Revolution® began, leaders recognized that a battle line was drawn. They came alongside their employees and found a common platform to effect a ceasefire. They identified the hottest point of the battle – the issue responsible for the greatest conflict. They visited the wounded and listened to their personal war stories. It then led them to redesign who they were as an organization and rally the troops around their newly defined identity.
Forging a plan to move beyond the Workforce Revolution®
In agreement about the most critical issues, the two sides forged a plan for lasting peace. Leaders laid down their defenses, met with the troops, and then developed a battle plan to destroy the obstacles that threatened success.
“Success lies in forging an alliance with your employees and turning the internal conflict into a unified war against your common enemy – the competition.”– Karen M. Pierce
Think of an alliance between leadership and the workforce as a merger of two companies. Before the merger, there was a clear adversary – a targeted competitor from which to steal market share. Post-merger, everyone’s on the same team. The two sides must pool resources, collaborate, and even trust each other to succeed. Examples abound of potentially advantageous mergers and acquisitions that failed to produce the expected results because leadership could not recognize the culture shift and emotional transition required for everyone to lay down arms and fly the same flag.
When hometown rivals Northwest Airlines and Republic Airlines merged, it made perfect sense on paper. The domestic routes of Republic and the international reach of Northwest created a formidable competitive force in the industry. On-airport maintenance facilities and a co-located workforce required little geographic rearrangement of operations or personnel.
Failing to recognize the human challenges of blending the organization, leadership forced the two companies together, and they mixed like oil and water.
More prominent Northwest and its name survived the merger, putting former Republic employees in a one-down position. They felt conquered, not merged, and didn’t believe they would be treated favorably in the new organization. Failing to recognize the human challenges of blending the organization, leadership forced the two companies together, and they mixed like oil and water.
Even the employee database highlighted the segregation of the workforce. Like Dr. Suess’ star-bellied Sneetches, former Republic employees were given employee numbers with a unique first digit different from that of the original Northwest employees. Even ten years later, just by reading the employee number on their security badge, a person was instantly identified as “red tail” (original Northwest) or “green tail” (former Republic). This segregation and encouragement of two separate cultures continued to give life to the conflict when what they needed was a hue everyone could identify with. The result was a deep rift in the organization and its effectiveness.
“Culture is the glue that holds a group of people together and gives it an identity.”– Karen M. Pierce
There is no loyalty without a clear identity of who you are as a company, what principles define your behavior and focus, and what greater purpose you serve. If people don’t have a sense of belonging to an organization, they won’t stay. There’s no reason to.
People need to be recognized, valued, and proud of their contribution to something bigger than themselves. Whether cleaning the bathrooms, operating a forklift, developing strategic plans, or making sales calls, the basic human need for community and value are powerful driving forces. These issues have been around long before the Workforce Revolution®.
It’s community – the trust and relationships developed through good communication – that are the fuel for productivity, engagement, and retention. And the data proves this point. ADP Research Institute conducted a study that showed that those who felt strongly connected to their company were 75 times more likely to be engaged in their work than those who didn’t.
So how do you take an organization with a freshly inked truce and create a strong alliance when it is still somewhat wary and distrustful of leadership?
This is exactly what we will be discussing over the coming weeks as we discuss the Workforce Revolution®. Steps to take that will help you get everyone focused in one direction, engaged in their work, creativity, and proactively solving the issues that move your company and everyone in it forward.
Are you ready to build an alliance that will last? It’s time we discuss where your organization stands and what you can do to take action that will help create a new culture that will impact your entire organization forever.