I regularly receive phone calls from senior leaders, who share that they have a poor culture and need help. However, before I ask my first question, more often than not, they add that the CEO is not on-board: even though the top dog can see the problems, he/she does not think that improving the culture will positively impact their company.
My advice? If you know your organization needs to embark on an employee engagement journey but your CEO is not aligned, the greatest hope you have to get him/her to “see the light” is data. As I say in my keynote speech, how do you get leaders to engage in engagement? Data. Executives love numbers. Why? Because you don’t get to be an executive without learning a thing or two about numbers. Executives present numbers to their boards all the time and are judged on their ability to ensure the numbers are directionally correct.
So gather compelling data which shows the correlation between employee engagement and increased productivity/retention/customer satisfaction/revenue growth (you can find some here), and have the critical conversation with your CEO. Communicate that the organization’s culture is not where it needs to be, but it can be improved, and what matters is that we acknowledge where we are today and embark on a journey – championed by the CEO – to improve it.
Why the CEO? Because he/she sets the stage for “how we do things here,” which is the definition of culture and because the CEO can get employees to do things that others cannot. When you embark on a journey to re-engage employees, managers are going to have to do things differently tomorrow than they do today. When the CEO asks managers to act differently, they will.
WHAT CAN I DO? Believe in yourself. Dig deep and find the courage and self-confidence that’s within you. Start the conversation with your CEO and don’t look back. And here are some compelling data points to help you make the case.