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How to Stop Talking AT Your Employees

Submitted by  on May 20th, 2011

Recognize This: If you want employees to think like “owners,” give them a reason to care about the business like an owner would.

I’ve heard nearly every cliché under the sun for employee:

  • Team member
  • Partner
  • Customer Success Enabler
  • Owner (at an ESOP company)

What others have you heard? Why do I bring this up? Because too often such cliché attempts to “get employees to care more about the business” are undertaken as the solution. How ridiculous.

Judah Schiller, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, recently had this to say on Huffington Post:

“Many companies are still missing the boat when it comes to getting their people to show up at work with their hearts, minds and bodies present. Most employees view work only as a means to an end–a way for them to collect a paycheck and receive health benefits. Part of the problem is that companies consistently fail to make a strong connection between their own “big picture” and its relevance to their employees. They continue to talk at rather than with their workers, dictating what’s good for them, rather than making an effort to understand their wants and needs.”

Yes, employees want to understand the big picture. But simply telling them the big picture doesn’t accomplish the goal. You have to make that big picture real in their everyday work. And you can’t do that through a slick communications program, online newsletter or Twitter campaign.

If you want to make your “big picture” matter to your employees in such a way that they are focused on helping you achieve it in their daily work, you need to make it real for them. The best way to do that is through strategic recognition in which you tell employees – frequently, honestly and specifically – how their individual efforts are helping the company succeed. Praise them when they get this right. Make it real in their daily work and connect that to how those efforts are contributing to achieving the company’s strategic objectives.

It takes a bit more effort than announcing all “employees” are now “team members,” but the results are far more effective – and you may have some fun along the way.

2 Way Feedback e-book

For practical strategies on how you can turn your workgroup into a high performance team, check out our 2 Way Feedback e-book. This practical guide will show you in concrete terms how to apply the lessons above so that every employee will want to contribute their best. Find out more about 2 Way Feedback and download today.

Posted in Communication, Performance | Comments (1)

One Response to “How to Stop Talking AT Your Employees”

  1. Cathy Morgan Says:

    Employee engagement can be one of the biggest differentiators a company can have. I
    recently read a great post about how one company is using gamifcation with online
    scheduling to increase engagement. Check it out “How Gamification Can Help Increase
    Sales.” (

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