Momentum is the strength or force that allows something to continue to grow stronger or faster over time. We tend to think of momentum in the context of objects – such as the rock gained momentum as it rolled downhill. But it occurred to me that momentum applies to activities – support for a project can gain momentum.
If workplace activities can gain momentum, then we need to be focused on how to increase it. Because that could be a good thing. Organizational momentum can be a powerful thing. It can increase morale and engagement, fuel creativity and innovation, and bring support for goals and strategies.
In turn, we should be aware of situations that can zap or decrease momentum. Because it can stall organizational progress. Here are six things that can keep momentum from moving the organization forward:
- Operating the organization without goals or a plan. One of the reasons I included the definition of momentum above is because I think that “something” is a goal or plan. Organizations want momentum to accomplish something and, if there’s no goal or plan…well, you know the rest. There doesn’t need to be a lot of goals and plans. Or even big plans and goals. But they do need to exist.
- Shortening the new hire “honeymoon”. I understand that organizations want new employees who can start contributing quickly. I’m sure a new hire wants the same thing. However, an employee’s introductory period is valuable. It’s the only time when they will truly have a set of fresh eyes on the organization. And that perspective could spark the organizational momentum the company is looking for. So, let employees have their introductory time.
- Overlooking the need for organizational investments. Businesses must make investments in equipment, training, technology, etc. to remain competitive. IMHO, sometimes organizations are quick to invest in equipment and forget investments in people. The better companies are about investing in all areas of the operation, and the better their momentum will be.
- Losing focus on products and/or services. At moments in time, we all get distracted by shiny new features or inventions. And that’s okay. It’s when those distractions start to change the way products are produced or customer service is delivered – and not in a good way. Momentum is about making the customer experience better. And when I refer to the customer experience, I’m talking about internal customers too.
- Assuming employees know how they are performing (so there’s no need to give feedback). Everyone wants to know how they’re doing. This isn’t a Millennial or Gen Z thing. And it shouldn’t happen just once a year during an annual performance appraisal. Organizational feedback fuels high performance. And high performance creates organizational momentum.
- Forgetting the value of employees (even when they are leaving the company). Employees will leave the organization for a variety of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the company. Former employees can be raving fans of the organization. They can refer customers and candidates. At some point, it’s possible they will want to come back. Treating exiting employees with respect sends a positive message.
Organizations are going to start thinking about momentum as part of their employee engagement and retention strategies. They will want to create this infectious positive work environment. The results will be obvious – increased employee referrals, improved employee engagement, and decreased turnover.
Human resources professionals will want to start thinking about how to create a movement or momentum within the organization. And how organizational momentum becomes a part of the company’s employment brand.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the Flora Icelandic HR Management Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland2