I regularly receive phone calls from senior leaders, who share that they are experiencing horrific turnover issues in their company 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 poor retention data, he/she does not think that improving the culture will positively impact their revolving door or revenue issues.
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.
And what if your CEO doesn’t get it? Then you have to make a personal decision. In the words of the band The Clash, "do I stay or do I go now?" I cannot answer that question for you. However, when I was faced with this decision, I left and never looked back. If I hadn’t left, you wouldn’t be reading this blog today. And I wouldn’t be an international keynote speaker. Nor an author. Nor an employee engagement expert, living my dreams, helping organizations around the globe improve, succeed and soar.
About the author
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She is a 2017 Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, 'If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement', and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at+1.303.999.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.