Do this, finish that, task, assignment, deadline – that is the life of most people in organizations. There is lots doing, but not much context.
In other words, most employees know what they’re doing and how they’re supposed to do it, but there’s an undeniable void when it comes to the biggest question of them all: WHY?
THE WHY IS CRITICAL!
Asking “why” is how we determine intent. But, probably most importantly it is how we derive and attribute meaning to any and all of our actions.
In the workplace, knowing why your work matters is at the forefront of employee engagement.
If an employee has a firm grasp on how their work affects the end result – be it a specific project, the effect on the customer, the company’s bottom line, etc. – there is a much larger scope attached to the work they do. “Why” is a motivator to be more productive or to be more conscientious. It attaches value above and beyond the work itself.
WHAT DOES KNOWING THE WHY DO?
Whether it’s a specific assignment or a company-wide policy, letting employees know the “why” behind their actions accomplishes two very important things:
1. It adds intangible value to their actions, allowing employees to see themselves as contributing to goals of the whole.
2. It gives employees a sense of being informed, privy to the same knowledge as company higher-ups and decision makers. Knowing “why” is to be part of the “in crowd.”
No one likes to be kept in the dark. Informing employees
• Why a project is so important,
• Why their actions affect the customer,
• Why you’ve chosen one vendor over another,
• Why office policy is in place, etc.,
illuminates their entire position. It helps to validate their contribution to the company.
Giving your employees the why’s gives them context for their actions. It helps them understand their impact on the organization, the team and even customers. In the end, it makes everyone more effective.
How do you share the whys?
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.