How to Help Employees Understand the Big Picture

Employees who understand how their work contributes to the strategy and business plan of the company, develop a greater sense of ownership and performance.

How-to Help Employees Understand the Big Picture

For an employee at a company, the most powerful and sustainable motivator is the sense of meaning derived from work. Employees find meaning in their work once they understand the big picture, and how their work makes a difference. According to the study conducted by the iOpener Institute, a belief in the firm’s economic or social purpose, and pride in the organization and its work, had a strong correlation with staying at a company.

Related: 4 Traits of a Great Workplace

However, ensuring that employees can see the organization from a broader perspective can be difficult. Depending on how this perspective is transmitted, the employee can either feel like a cog in the machine or focus on outcomes that make a difference. These are some ways you can help employees understand the big picture.

1. Give your employees the opportunity to see what others are doing

Companies that encourage, and help employees create an internal network, able workers to gain valuable insights into how they fit in the company, its mission, and how they affect others’ work. By connecting with co-workers, an employee can learn how his work impacts, directly or indirectly, their peers. Therefore, realize the immediate impact of their daily work, and understand how the company operates. Moreover, it helps build relationships of mutual respect and understanding for the work of colleagues.

Related: What Drives a Successful Onboarding Process

2. Let employees know what's going on

For employees, it is very difficult to understand the big picture, if they do not know what's going on. According to Lane4, 78% of staff feel their company does not communicate with them effectively, leaving them wanting to know more about the organization they work for. This information gap must be filled by the leaders of the company.

Related: How to Engage and Retain Top Employees

Business leaders have a clearer perspective on the bigger picture than their employees do. However, they often don’t take the time to share their perspective with their employees. They wrongly assume employees know how things are going or what challenges are down the road or what new products are coming. If leaders take the initiative to tell employees what's going on they cannot only get employees to understand the context in which they are working but also reinforce the feeling among workers, that they are an important part of the organization.

3. The “Why” + “How” + “What” = The Big Picture

The "Why" is the Purpose of your organization

Businesses exist to make a profit, but they also exist to make a difference or to provide a service or product that meets a need. Therefore, profit should be an outcome of the company's journey toward more significant goals. In order to achieve them each person must feel connected with the cause, they need to understand that they are part of something meaningful and see how their daily activities contribute to it.

The “How” is the organization’s guiding principles

It's not what you do but how you do it. As noted by Sheila L. Margolis, president of the Workplace Culture Institute, "the “How” is the collection of values that capture what the organization stands for and its unique way of delivering on the Purpose." In order to understand what sets a company apart from other organizations, we must comprehend its essence (its personality). The company's character determines how employees uniquely do their work, and the standards and values they follow, in order to enable the organization to achieve its Vision and Goals. Therefore, the “Why” and the “How” are your organization’s core culture.

The “What” is the organization’s vision and goals

Once employees understand the company's core culture, the "Why" and the "How," they ensure their actions are directed at accomplishing the organization’s Vision and Goals– the “What." The company's strategy should clearly define the desired results needed to achieve business success and provide insight into the global conditions that impact the organization. So that employees understand the actions to be undertaken to meet the objectives throughout the organization, and be able to make adjustments as changes occur.

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