Once upon a time, these were the purview of C-levels alone. In recent years, however, top brass have started to fold in lower-level employees. Why? To encourage collective ownership of business success. If everyone buys into a company's goals, those goals will be much easier to achieve.
The problem, however, is that CEOs -- and the managers who report to them -- miss a crucial step. They forget that for many employees, there's no clear connection between the work that they do and sweeping, company-wide ambitions. You can almost hear the inner monologue down the reporting chain: "Sure, it's nice to be included in company strategy talks, but how do I contribute to all of this?"
This disconnect ultimately produces more stress -- largely because the inclusive "we" language used in quarterly level-sets is not just an invitation to own company success, but an ask to contribute to future success.
In order to avoid this stress spiraling into a rampant motivation-killer, managers need to break down sweeping company-wide goals into smaller ones -- specifically, ones that are relevant to each employee. These should then be connected to the larger company goals so that their contribution is clear.
Here's an example: John is an administrative assistant for banking executives. His job largely entails scheduling appointments, following up on critical client communications, organizing events, and keeping the office well-stocked and tidy.
During a recent quarterly meeting, the CEO proposed an ambitious goal: Double year-over-year profits. At the end of his presentation, he called on every employee of the bank to play their part in achieving it.
A few weeks later, during a quarterly job review, the divisional boss sat down with John to discuss his performance and ongoing job responsibilities.
Instead of running down a checklist, however -- confirming that every task highlighted in the job description was being completed to satisfaction -- John's boss talked about how his dedication to following up with one particular client was enough to secure a critical sales meeting that ultimately landed the bank big business.
That business now accounts for 10% of the division's revenue, or 3% of the bank's total revenue.
While this particular example is anomalous, it does point to something critical for company-wide investment in growth: Understanding that what every employee does truly matters to business success.
So the next time you talk big-picture ideas with your employees, connect the dots -- let them know their daily works feeds the success goals of the company. Be specific; use examples. And don't make it a one-off exercise; be intentional about regularly highlighting the interconnectedness of employees' work and the success your company enjoys.