Jim Bado, President, Workplace Development
It’s only February, but for many of us, that means some already broken New Year’s resolutions. It’s not too late, however, to jump back on the improvement wagon and resolve to make the most of employee ownership at your company in 2023.
Based on our more than three decades providing practical communication, training and ownership-culture development services, here are some real-world suggestions (i.e., ESOP resolutions) you can implement to be more effective this year and lay a solid foundation for future success.
1. Identify a couple of specific goals
Just like with a New Year’s resolution, sustaining or developing a successful ownership culture begins with asking yourself what you want to accomplish and identifying specific employee-ownership goals.
- Do you want to build a better understanding of your ESOP’s benefits?
- Utilize it as a powerful recruitment and retention tool?
- Create or reboot an ESOP Committee to develop more effective internal ESOP advocates?
- Start sharing business information or implementing metrics to connect people’s daily actions to company performance and ESOP stock value?
No matter what your goals are, remember that individuals often fail to achieve their personal resolutions when they take on too many, make them too broad, and create unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a time period (e.g., I want to lose 15 pounds by the end of January). Avoid these common traps and the bane of unmet expectations — you’ll achieve greater success by creating fewer, more specific goals.
2. Build a plan to achieve your goals
As the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. This means you need to invest the time and resources to create a strategy and define a concrete path to achieving your employee-ownership goals.
The good news: this doesn’t have to be a complex, cumbersome process. Similar to goal setting, the first step is deciding who you want to involve. Think about your current culture and the goals you’ve set for this year. For example, if you already have an ESOP Communications Committee, maybe they should participate in goal setting so that they can own the results. If managers are the main communicators, involve them early in the process to get buy-in and build positive momentum.
Your plan can include who your target audience is, what type of activities, training or communication you will do, the different channels you’ll utilize (e.g., text, print, email, video/audio recordings, virtual, live), and who will be primarily responsible for executing it. A successful plan helps you achieve goals by breaking them down into easy-to-manage increments. Remember to consider obstacles to achieving your objective and why previous efforts may not have been as successful as you had hoped. Plan how you will mitigate those challenges and, of course, write down the plan — complete with tasks, who’s responsible and milestone dates — so you can track your progress.
3. Less is more
As you define an implementation strategy, think about how fewer tasks can lead to greater success. This is especially important if you are starting or restarting your ownership communication and training process. The best approach can be doing things in small bites, like taking 5 or 10 minutes at a monthly meeting or sending out short, consistent communications during the year. Just make sure you’re engaging with employee owners at least once a quarter to maintain the positive momentum and ensure that your ESOP stays top of mind. Because, as all of us experience every day, there are far too many things competing for our limited attention. Many of those things are nowhere near as important to your employees as the ESOP opportunity.
Do you already hold team or all-hands meetings? What about company celebrations or events? Integrate small bites of communication or training into these regularly scheduled events throughout the year instead of reinventing the wheel. These are perfect opportunities to address employees with your ESOP message.
4. Get support
We often fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions because we try to do it alone, rather than with a friend or group of like-minded people. Getting support can enable you to achieve your employee-ownership resolutions.
Look to people inside and outside your company to help you get to where you want to go.
- Lean on your professional advisors, like your administrator, trustee, valuation firm and legal counsel for assistance.
- Engage professionals who specialize in ESOP communications, training and ownership-culture development to bolster your efforts.
- Attend local and national events and network with others for new ideas.
- Ask other local ESOP companies what they’re doing to succeed and invite them to share their story with your employee owners. While you’re at it, ask them what has failed, too, so you can avoid making similar missteps.
Developing and maintaining a robust ownership culture takes time, planning, and consistency. It’s not easy but, as many of us know, neither is keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Get yourself a head start this year and resolve to implement some of these suggestions to make the most of employee ownership in 2023. When 2024 rolls around, you’ll be glad you did.
For assistance with your 2023 ESOP resolutions contact Jim Bado at firstname.lastname@example.org