We’re entering an era where exceptional businesses will be the product of exceptional workplaces. Not just compliant workplaces filled with obedient, productive workers, but one where employees are actively and meaningfully shaping the business for the future that it aspires to.
These exceptional workplaces will be driven by the effectiveness with which you engage and motivate your people.
Strategic projects provide human resources (HR) managers with an opportunity to be intentional about creating engagement and motivation because they give people future-focused work to be engaged in and a meaningful purpose to be motivated by.
Engagement is more than fulfilling a social contract with your people
It has become clear that engagement takes more than bean bag chairs, foosball tables, and trendy in-house cafes.
Engagement research over the last 15 years has consistently shown that there is a direct link between an engaged workforce and performance-based cultural traits. Organisations with high levels of employee engagement outgrow, outperform, and outlast other businesses.
This begs the question: Does engagement drive better business performance and do high-performing businesses elicit more engagement from their employees? The answer is a resounding YES!
To create the sort of exceptional workplace that drives the business forward, the organisation needs to not only engage its employees in a powerful way; it also needs to direct that engagement towards work that makes the business stronger.
Engage your people in the strategic journey
By giving employees the responsibility for turning strategic intent into operational reality, you connect them to your business purpose – you give them work that has meaning.
Strategic projects are the ideal vehicle for undertaking this journey because they turn workplace benefits for employees into performance benefits for the company.
Turning the business’s strategic execution activities into projects, not only shapes the business for the future, but also creates the opportunity to grow highly-engaged and intrinsically-motivated teams.
The projects we’re talking about are not big transformational undertakings. They are targeted initiatives that make meaningful progress toward your business’s strategic objectives.
These projects have very specific engagement attributes:
- Short-duration, high-priority initiatives
This translates strategic goals into something that your people can relate to and, as a result, allows them to readily incorporate this work into their operational activities.
- Target a single, strategic outcome
This allows your people to clearly see the strategic contribution they’re making. It also makes progress visible, and meaningful progress is the single greatest workplace motivator.
- Undertaken by people closest to the strategic opportunity being pursued
By empowering the people that have the greatest knowledge of the business area you’re trying to create, enhance, or improve, you get better strategic outcomes. Your people will be more invested in the change because they’re creating that change.
HR managers can play an essential role in using projects to create an exceptional workplace
Human resources (HR) professionals, who are often asked to improve employee engagement and increase workplace motivation, can utilise these insights by:
- Giving employees ‘a voice’ in defining the projects that will create strategic improvement opportunities – reinforcing their connection to your strategic purpose.
- Helping develop the leadership skills necessary for frontline staff to lead projects and managers to support and enable the project work, rather than direct it.
- Ensuring that team members selected for projects are both deeply satisfied and personally challenged by the work.
Strategic projects can take many forms, but to deliver both the workplace and performance benefits, they should focus on shaping the business’s future and be of high strategic value.
It’s in these conditions that people will not just do their best work, they will aspire to be their best.
Jeff Schwisow is a Melbourne-based strategy specialist, speaker, and the author of “Projectify – How To Use Projects To Engage Your People In Strategy That Evolves Your Business.” Jeff helps businesses use the power of projects to engage the very best of its people, consistently delight its clients, and constantly evolve to generate exceptional business results. Get in touch with him by emailing email@example.com.