• Sarah Robinson

If I Build It, Will They Come? Part 5 of Creating a Fiercely Loyal and Engaged Employee Culture


This is Part Five in my series on Creating a Fiercely Loyal and Engaged Employee Culture. We’ve covered the ROI of creating this kind of culturewhy your organization wants to create it, narrowing in on the Frame that will hold your community culture, and Finding Those who are interested in your frame. Now you know how to find the employees who are raising their hands and saying “Pick Me!”.

What happens next?

Building Block #4  A Specific Organizational Structure

Those employees who have expressed the need for a community will do one of two things. One, they will gravitate toward each other and form their own unofficial community(s). Two, they will seek out a community that already exists. How they get to the community isn’t as important as what the community structure looks like when they arrive.

In all of my research and all of my experience in building fiercely loyal communities, I’ve seen every kind of structure in place. Some work really, really well, and others don’t work at all. As I pulled apart the successful ones, I discovered three non-negotiable elements that they share.

FL Slide Structure

1) Connection. There must be connection points built into the community. These can be face to face or online, though a combination of the two works best. Community members want to be connected all across the company; they want to know people in other departments, buildings, cities, even countries. They also want to connect with the C-Suite. Not in a perfunctory, obligatory way, either. The top brass has to participate, connect and engage in the community in a very real, candid and authentic way.

2) Support. In much the same vein as Connection, support mechanisms need to be in place. One of the most interesting things I discovered in this area is that community members not only want support from the organization and their supervisors, they want to give and get support from each other. Making it safe to ask for support and making time to give support are critical to making this element work.

3) Predictability. Community members want to know how the community functions. What are the rules? When are the meetings? Who has final say? If the community feels chaotic and no one know what’s going on, no one will stay.

When Connection, Support and Predictability meet the needs of Belonging, Recognition and Safety, community happens. Here are tips to get you moving in that direction:

  1. Determine when, where and how you will provide this structure. Do you need to start from scratch or are there some communities that already exist you can tap into?

  2. Decide who will be the point person for your community. Creating a broad, organization-wide community takes focus and energy. Who will be the quarterback to make it happen? While it’s tempting to choose someone from Human Resources, put some extra effort in and locate someone who has enthusiasm and passion for the idea no matter which department they work in.

  3. Involve members of the community as much as you can as you build the structure. Even if you just have a handful of people, involving them early gives them a feeling of ownership.  And that will go a long way in drawing more people into your community.

As you move into the actual building process, keep the key elements and these tips in mind. You’ll be making the process much easier and as you build it, the right people will come to your community.

My next post will cover the difference between a community and a fiercely loyal, highly engaged community. If you are after the latter, you won’t want to miss it!

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