We all want to work in a place where every employee feels appreciated and valued. Where employee education is encouraged. Where high-performing employees are the norm. Yet for many, it seems more a fantasy than reality. Why is getting the people thing right so elusive? Because we are stuck in old unproductive habits about employees and we are not using some important lessons from other parts of the business.
Let’s first focus on customers. You can’t get it wrong for a customer – their loyalty is important to your business success. To ensure you don’t get it wrong for your customers, you have to get it right for your employees.
There are three, non-negotiable areas every organization has to get right before you can add the something extra: hiring, workplace culture and management.
Hiring – Bring in the right people. Get your approach to hiring right by having a process that focuses on consistently hiring people who are capable and successful doing what the job requires. This shows in how you define what the job does and the attributes of someone who can do it well. This shows in building a non-conventional sourcing strategy that includes both actively searching for talent and to become an employer of choice so the best find you. This shows in changing how you interview so your interviews are prove-it-to-me events, ensuring you are clear of the candidate’s strengths and liabilities. Updating your approach to defining, sourcing and interviewing is key to bringing in the right people. They can’t perform well if they are in roles that do not connect with their abilities and interests, or if it doesn’t help them develop their potential.
Workplace culture – A workplace that values, develops and engages. Get it right by providing a workplace that takes the well-hired employees and engages and empowers them to learn, grow, own their performance, contribute and make an impact. This can include ensuring:
- Employees have the tools and resources needed to do their jobs well.
- Employees are clear of their performance expectations.
- Employees receive recurring performance feedback that focuses on applauding good performance and improving areas of challenging performance.
- Employees are routinely involved in skill and career development.
- The workplace is accepting, supportive and collaborative (psychologically safe) by refusing to accept cliques, gossip, mocking, ridicule or put-downs.
Management – Have managers who think and act like coaches by guiding, supporting and encouraging instead of directing, controlling and telling. Get it right by training your managers to think and act like coaches who know how to build strong, supportive and development-focused relationships with employees. Help your managers develop greater emotional intelligence (greater self-awareness and self-management) to prepare them to create and sustain stronger and more effective relationships. This extra attention and effort managers make in their relationships is a driver of greater employee engagement and retention.
Make it your purpose to hire wisely, build an employee-focused workplace culture and train your managers to build better working relationships by helping them shift from managing to coaching. People – your people – will continue to be the greatest workplace challenge until you learn how to get it right. And until you get it right for your people, you are also challenging your ability to get it right for your customers.
Make getting the people thing right your key focus in 2020 because as your people go, so do your customers. And, as your customers go, so goes your business.
By Jay Forte