We understand that humans unconsciously care about about two things; looking good and being loved. As business communicators, most of our work involves partnering with leaders and other internal stakeholders to ensure that they we communicating the right information, at the right time, to address the needs and concerns of our audiences. Ultimately, ensuring that both the company and executive sponsors are seen in the best light. In other words, we do all possible to make our leaders look good.
Being loved is another issue.
How do we create a context so that people feel loved at work? Just like any relationship, people feel loved when they feel heard, or feel like their partner is listening. Whether conscious or unconscious, people feel loved at work when there is an opportunity to speak-up and communicate what we are thinking. We feel loved when we have a voice.
Our opportunity as business communicators is to set and meet the expectations of humans to be loved at work by nurturing a culture of co-creation. Now that co-creation technologies are more available and affordable, we can move more quickly towards making co-creation a reality. However, we have found that companies are typically wrestling with one or many of these issues:
- Leaders are concerned about what information might be shared
- Communicators and/or IT need to decide what technology should be used (online or offline)
- There is no expectation for employees to participate or contribute
- Potential benefits are not connected to important (and measurable) business objectives
Whether you are experiencing one or many of these issues, I suggest you take one first step. Facilitate a cross-functional conversation about the potential benefits of a co-creation initiative and link the benefits to specific business objectives. For example, would empowering employees to submit ideas about process improvements affect response time, budget efficiency, or even safety? Or, would inviting employees into a conversation about the future of your company drive higher levels of retention, performance, engagement and productivity? How valuable would it be to your company to meet these important objectives faster?
These are great questions, however we need to remember that leaders still don’t know, what they don’t know. Our priority needs to be sharing relevant stories and examples of co-creation initiatives while illustrating the connection to meaningful business objectives. Connecting the benefits of involvement and co-creation to bottom-line, is the bottom line.