If your business took a lie detector test, how confident would you be to say that your colleagues understand the direction it’s headed and how they can help it get there?
While most firms trot out the cliché that their people are their most important asset, many struggle to put them at the heart of a brand or business change. And in these times of unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty in the workplace – when employees are adjusting to the new dynamics of hybrid working on the one hand, and worrying about AI chatbots taking their jobs on the other – that’s an issue.
In his book Living the Brand, management professor Nicholas Ind tells it straight: "Many large organisations have the knack of taking in enthusiastic, committed, hopeful people and turning them – unwittingly and over time – into hostile, cynical, and hopeless people.”
So how can this happen?
Through our work at The Clearing, we see three recurring themes. Some organisations can be too process driven – forgetting how their people might feel about change and making it impossible for them to understand or engage.
Others can focus too much on strategy – usually when leadership teams are disconnected from the rest of the business – making it hard for people to relate and appreciate the relevance to their everyday roles.
While sometimes a reliance on tactical, incremental changes makes it difficult for people to see the bigger picture and understand how everything fits together.
The toxic fallout from these imbalances is the subtle but insidious phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’, where employees disengage without actually leaving. And as every CEO knows, if people don’t care about their vision or commit to their strategy, then it’s not going to happen.
McKinsey notes that the most successful leaders understand that “every employee makes a choice, every day, about how much discretionary effort to give.” They need to be inspired through change. They need to feel connected to where the organisation is going and to feel empowered to play their part in helping it get there.
This is where creativity can help. Showing your people what the future could look like – literally – by bringing the vision to life in a way that’s exciting and aspirational. Creating icons of change that show up across the colleague experience – sometimes where they’re least expected – to make people stop and take note. A little fresh thinking goes a long way.
At The Clearing, we do this to help our clients build ‘Buy-in’ from the inside out, bottom up, one person at a time – recognising that individual employees are the foundations for organisational success.
We think of Buy-in as the People Operating System for business and brand change. It transforms employees into advocates who not only understand what you’re trying to achieve, but believe in it and act on it in every facet of their work, every day. This sets the stage for change and fosters a culture where your people, armed with a clear understanding of their roles, show up for customers and each other when it matters.
Gallup research shows that businesses with high levels of buy-in outperform their peers, seeing higher levels of customer engagement as well as purchase. We believe that it’s essential to business performance.
So as you reflect on the dynamics of your own organisation, consider the effect that Buy-in could have. When your people truly buy in to where you’re going, that lie detector test becomes less an interrogation and more a validation – a testament to the fact that your people aren’t just working at the company but pushing it forward.