You're a social entrepreneur on a quest to build your company and make the world a better place at the same time.
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But what about your employees? If your employees aren't as sold out for your cause as you are, your quest might be over before it even begins.
Employee buy-in is one of the most critical – but most often overlooked – aspects of social entrepreneurship. It's assumed that your employees are onboard with your objectives to earn a profit and grow the business. However, you can't automatically assume that your employees will support your efforts to advance a noble cause, especially if you are transitioning an existing business into a social entrepreneurial endeavor. To gain their support, you'll need to work for it. here's how to get started . . . .
Tell Your Story
You didn't just wake up one day, drink a cup of coffee, and decide to do the right thing. Your decision to become a social entrepreneur happened as a result of a process, and that means you have a story to tell. You can't simply tell your employees to support your social commitment or else. Instead, you need to tell your story and invite them to become a part of it.
By now you've probably learned that your employees key off your level of passion and commitment. If you model a half-hearted commitment to your cause, don't be surprised if your employees drag their feet in getting behind it. On the other hand, your consistent passion and excitement for your cause will quickly become contagious, and before long you will have numerous cheerleaders for the cause in the company.
It's impossible for your employees to buy into your social commitment unless they realize what you are trying to accomplish. Since you already identify business objectives (e.g. sales goals), it shouldn't be difficult to integrate your social objectives into the annual planning process. As your cause gains traction in the company, your employees' role in defining annual objectives can – and should – increase.
Broaden the Net
One of the best ways to maximize employee buy-in is to proactively solicit buy-in from their families. Company events that invite employees and their families to get involved can be a lot of fun and help cement the importance of your cause in your company's consciousness. An additional benefit of family buy-in is that it broadens your net and enhances your company's social impact.
Social entrepreneurship is about achieving business and socially-minded goals at the same time. But if you only celebrate your business goals, your employees will begin to doubt the importance of your company's social objectives. To maintain employee buy-in, make an intentional effort to celebrate the achievement of your social objectives with the same intensity as you celebrate a healthy bottom line.