On Wednesday, January 30, Webolutions welcomed 10 Denver-area executives to explore some current employee-engagement trends, discuss “visioning” and explore possibilities to create a more aligned organization.

The Ever-Evolving Visioning

The roundtable kicked off with a profound statement: “Entrepreneurs have this dream that everyone in the organization will fully align with the vision. If that were true, wouldn’t that be awesome!?” It’s one thing for executives to craft a vision to move an organization forward; and it’s another to have it executed. All executives agreed that in order from vision to reality, they needed buy-in from the employees. How do they approach this? By providing a safe and comfortable place for employees to share freely. “When we conduct meetings, we make sure everyone has protection and space for everyone to participate,” said one leader. So often, executives said, employees in company-wide meetings are afraid or unwilling to provide feedback. By allowing meeting time for all employees to share openly about the vision without repercussions, the workforce actively engages in the vision.

For executives with remote teams, Slack is the preferred tool to allow Denver leaders to conduct weekly meetings on getting input on the company vision. When asked if executives had the choice to conduct in-person vs. teleconferencing meetings, many opted to conduct in-person meetings about company vision — even if not all of the employees are in the same office. “We even fly in employees who are out of town to the office and get their input,” said one executive.

Once the team is assembled, the next question posed to executives was “what is considered behind an effective company vision?” Right away, one executive mentioned that the vision has to be actionable, yet attainable. “It can be lofty, but also be a part of your brand.” The discussion then morphed into how company vision and mission must be implemented into the vision. According to Jim Collins’ book, “Beyond Entrepreneurship,” Vision is simply a combination of ever-evolving core values, an organization’s fundamental reason for existence beyond just making money, often called its mission or purpose, and a huge and audacious — but ultimately achievable — aspirations for its own future.

One executive presented her take on the company vision as “the end game” and her mission as “how am I going to get there.” Executives agreed that their vision must include the “how” aspect but also their full belief that the vision will work. “Somehow, we believe the vision,” one attendee mentioned. “The vision will constantly be evolving, especially when you bring in new employees.” Discussion then transitioned to where to start on putting the vision into action. Where to start? Aligning each member of the team toward the vision, mission and values.

Getting Personal for Powerful Employee Engagement

According to a recent Gallup poll, since 2011, only 30% of employees are engaged at their jobs. If you think that number is too low, you’re not alone, and executives offered wisdom on breaking norms and better engaging their employees, especially when it comes to aligning the workforce with the company vision. At the roundtable, Webolutions presented the research that higher levels of engagement come from employees who work for compassionate leaders — those who are authentic and present, have a sense of dignity, hold others accountable, lead with integrity and show empathy.

Denver-area leaders chimed in on ideas on boosting employee engagement by getting to know their colleagues better. The takeaway? The more you know your staff personally, the better they will perform. “Lift employees’ spirits by giving them recognition,” said one executive. In addition to personal recognition, executives also agreed that by understanding how an employee retains information — whether it’s through visuals, meetings, discussions or hands-on training — they will better communicate the company vision to its staff. “It’s all about the attention to details and how you communicate your vision, dreams and goals better,” said one attendee.

Strategies for Aligning your Organization

The final discussion during the Executive Roundtable centered around gelling the company vision with engaging the workforce to yield better organizational alignment. As with nearly all approaches to company success, good communication is paramount in executing an effective company vision and aligning employees. To improve communication, Denver-area leaders offered a variety of tips for allowing more exchanges throughout the organization.

One executive said she sets aside “office hours,” similar to a college professor’s schedule, where employees can stop by her desk within that time block and share any updates, questions or feedback. “It allows them to be heard, and I let my bosses know that this time is being reserved for open discussion,” she said. Another executive said she likes to mix up the environment of the meeting location — for instance, taking the mundane company huddle from the “meeting room” to a local coffee shop. The change in environment, she said, provides an atmosphere where employees can be happier. While the relaxed approach has benefited some executives, another Denver-area leader has taken a more strict approach to weekly meetings: Each team member must present the top 5 projects they are working on this week in less than 12 seconds. “You must come prepared to that meeting,” he explained.

Whether it’s adhering to a strict meeting schedule or relocating the weekly team meeting to a different location, executives are constantly mulling ways to engage sync their team engagement with the company vision. What are some of the ways you have helped contribute to effective visioning and alignment. We’d love to hear your feedback! Call us at 303-300-2640 or email [email protected]

Do you know executives for whom a Webolutions Executive Roundtable would be a positive experience, whose perspectives would be valuable for our attendees? Please refer them to Mike Hanbery, Webolutions, 303-300-2640, [email protected]