Create a Better Place to Work:
Become an Employer of Choice
By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
potatoes take heart. Dave Smith, PhD, a sports psychologist in
England discovered simply thinking about a rigorous workout
can help you lose weight. That's right! In Dr. Smith's study at
Manchester Metropolitan University, people who thought about
exercise twenty times a day for a month gained enough muscle mass to
lose 22 pounds a year without dieting! In other words, if you buy
Smith's claim, pondering iron is nearly as effective as pumping it!
guess what. It doesn't work that way when it comes to creating a
work environment that gets the most out of your employees. No, in
this case, you actually have to do something to get results.
The number one complaint from employees in the trenches is that, in
some places, management does a pretty good job of talking about the
need for good leadership, but far too seldom do they move from
inspiration to execution. Here are six ideas you can turn into
Conduct a morale survey: A survey is the best way to find out
how you’re doing in the morale department. Regularly (and formally)
assess employee attitudes, morale and perceptions of the work
environment through the use of a survey. Feed the results back to
everyone (as in, everyone) within one month. Make sure the survey
scores play a significant role in the promotion, retention
and compensation of all those in a leadership capacity. Use the
data to manage, measure and reshape the organization’s strategic
easy for people to give you the information you need. Put the
survey online, on your intranet, or in a secure area of your
website. But a huge caution here. If you’re not
prepared to share the results, and act on what you learn, in a
reasonable period of time, don’t even get started.
Analyze hiring performance: On the premise that great places to
work start with great people, start measuring, managing, and
rewarding each manager’s hiring performance over time. This IS part
of your business metrics isn’t it? Make a portion of a manager’s
bonus potential (25 percent recommended) tied to quality of hiring.
Evaluate training feedback: The next time an employee attends
any kind of training, ask them ahead of time to be prepared to tell
you three new concepts or skills they learned from it, and one thing
they will begin doing differently as a result. Don't approach it
like a grilling, but emphasize the need to transform learning into
performance, and your desire to support them in their development.
employees the fruits of their labor: Find a meaningful way to
show people how the product they make, service they support or work
they do is actually used, and enjoyed, by your customers. As an
example, one company commonly meets this challenge with field trips.
Yes, field trips, like when you were in school. Because they
manufacture highly technical medical supplies – tubes, valves, etc.
– the work is tedious, painstaking and, well, occasionally boring.
first step in combating complacency was to build some task variety
into the job. Then, the plant manager started arranging tours of a
nearby hospital where the assembly workers could see their products
at work, saving lives and delivering drugs and pain relief to
patients. The assembly workers returned with such excitement and
rediscovered appreciation for their work that the office staff
wanted to be a part of it, too, so they chartered a bus for
themselves. Now, everyone in the plant makes a couple of trips a
year to continue reinforcing this message: “What we do here is
Investigate effectiveness of internal communications: You
undoubtedly spend tons of money on internal corporate
communications. Here’s a little pop quiz you can use to see if they
are working: Ask the next 10 employees you bump into to write down
the company’s top three business priorities. If the answers are all
exactly the same, congratulations! If they aren’t, you had better
get busy – as former NFL head coach Jimmy Johnson once put it,
“Confused players aren’t very aggressive.”
on the footlocker: Get in the trenches with your employees,
because good leadership is involved leadership. Major General Melvin
Zais, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Viet Nam, circa
1968, once said in a speech to future officers, “If you'll get out
of your warm house and go down to the barracks...and just sit on the
footlocker...you don't have to tell ‘em they're doing a great job.
Just sit on the footlocker and talk to one or two soldiers and
leave. They'll know that you know that they're working hard to make
you look good.”
are many quick and easy ways to let your employees know they’re
important to you, and here are six ideas you can implement today. Do
just a couple of them, and you'll have lots to show for it. Just get
out of your fancy, air-conditioned office and go do it!
go. Time to contemplate the treadmill.
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