Tag Archives: engagement

What’s Missing?

A group of local MBA students are conducting interviews at my organization to define our culture. Many of our senior level executives define culture as our core values. This isn’t an incorrect definition, but I think it’s missing something. It’s missing the “human element” of our culture. Core values generally represent things that affect our bottom line. For example: safety, profitability, quality, ethics, etc. What about leadership, diversity, behavior, attitude…fun? We can all appreciate going to work for a company that produces quality products or services, earns profit, provides a safe environment and adheres to a code of conduct. But, does that keep you at work? I don’t think so. Those are baseline expectations…the bare minimum.

To truly engage and retain employees, we have to look at the missing piece of the culture puzzle. We have to look at the culture of leadership: do we empower employees at all levels? Is there unobstructed, unbiased opportunity for growth? Do we listen to our employees and take action? Are employees excited to come into the office? Or is it a dreaded routine? Do we have fun? Do our employees feel valued? These are the human elements. The questions that need to be asked, but are not easy to measure.

August 2014, Business Insider published a list of “25 Best Corporate Cultures” – check it out here: http://www.businessinsider.com/25-best-corporate-cultures-2014-8?op=1

Among the top 25 are No.1, NetApp in San Francisco, CA; No. 22, REI in New York, NY; and No. 16, Nike in Portland, OR. As leaders, we have an opportunity to build a great culture and have a positive impact on people’s lives. If you’re not already listed in the top 25, discover what’s missing…and don’t forget to focus on the human elements.

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Engaged Employees

It is widely known that engaged employees are happier and thus more productive—here are a few tips on how to keep your team engaged.

1)  Give them a voice. It’s not enough to say “I hear what you’re saying.” As a leader, you have to listen. Implement ideas that come from your staff and give them all of the credit.

2)  Compensate fairly. You don’t have to be at the top of the pay scale, but you also can’t be at the bottom. Pay your people fairly. Give raises and remember that compensation comes in many forms—not just salary. A few examples are: memberships, training programs and work-from-home days which saves them in traveling costs and pays the added benefit of staying in your pajamas.

3)  Recognize their contributions and accomplishments. People need to feel valued. Ask your team how they want to be recognized.

4)  Create opportunities for advancement. People want room to grow and they want to be challenged. If there is a path to advancement, make sure it’s clear. More importantly—you need to follow-through by promoting and recognizing when a team member has advanced. It’s frustrating and shows inconsistency when you give your employees a good review but don’t back it with a raise or advancement.

5)  Drop the title. Stop with the fancy titles. Most titles are a cover for assumed authority. Lead by influence and don’t name-drop (or title-drop, rather). Titles box-in your capabilities—let your people contribute their best talents regardless of their specific hired-for role.

6)  Have fun. Plan play days at the office. Decorate the place, put up photos, host dress-up days, plan fun events, and bring families to the party. Order lunch in and set up a game of cranium. In other words—lighten up!

7)  Create traditions. An idea that I’ve used is to have Friday Goodies where each team member rotates bringing in goodies on Fridays. Added bonuses—reimburse your staff for the goodies they bring, up to $20 bucks OR take everyone out for treats!

8)  Be authentic. There’s nothing worse than a boss who is 1) always right and 2) steals the credit at any given opportunity. Make sure everyone knows this is a team effort—we are in this together. As a leader, you need to be vulnerable. Share your successes and failures.

9)  Explain your logic. If you’re asking your team to change something—to do something your way— provide them with a logical explanation. Don’t nit-pick. Engaged employees need autonomy and room to be creative.

I’m appreciative of the wealth of resources and great articles that inspire me to write more about the Culture Difference. My inspiration for this post came from Inc (a great magazine and online resource). Check out the article by Paul Spiegelman here: http://www.inc.com/paul-spiegelman/ten-steps-to-an-engaged-company-culture.html

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