People Are The Most Important Asset Part 3
Walking the Talk
I have spent my entire career working in the upstream oilfield environment and have found people to be a critical success factor in every company in which I have come in contact. In my last two posts on the value of employees to a company, I discussed why this is the case and some ways to meet employee expectations. The discussion below is intended to provide ideas on how to demonstrate that employees are truly valued.
The retention and motivation of employees greatly affect a company. Recruiting and training new employees are expensive tasks that can often be avoided by focusing on retaining the company’s current work force. Companies can demonstrate that the employees are the company’s most important assets by making the following efforts:
Managers who seek to improve company performance and achieve company goals have found that one key is to improve employee satisfaction. Management can do this by leading by example, maintaining fair and equitable policies (including senior management), and working as diligently as their employees. Simple examples include joining in employee activities at work (holiday luncheons, celebrations of employee birthdays, etc) and outside of work (company sponsored sports teams, hosting group events at an outside venue, which could include manager’s homes). A very simple example would be having managers serve the food to employees in a serving line at a company barbeque!
Employees should be encouraged to form teams to deal with specific issues in the spirit of continuous improvement. In addition, existing teams should be motivated to achieve better results and trained to work as a group. Management must be proactive to sort out internal disagreements and find solutions that will allow employees to work together in a positive manner.
Employees that are rewarded for adding value for customers will continue to try to achieve this goal. Customers can be external or internal to the organization. This will result in improving customer satisfaction, which should grow the company’s bottom line. The trick is to find out when, exactly, an employee provides a customer with added value. Management must search out feedback by contacting customers as well as encouraging other employees to report this type of positive behavior by their peers. In any case, the employee should be made aware of any positive customer comments. A systematic way to elicit customer feedback is through our Customer360 dashboard.
Many employee requirements or desires cost very little. These include being asked to give feedback on proposed company plans, suggestions on improvement in operations or products, and recognition for positive performance. Management needs to watch for opportunities to capture employee concerns and wants, and to address these whenever possible. Management can also obtain employee feedback through reviews, group employee meetings, and daily direct discussion with employees (one of the benefits of “management by walking around”).
Almost all employees benefit from specific job training, and appreciate the opportunity to improve their skills. This should result in better performance, and prepare employees to take on more challenging assignments. Companies that provide training on a regular basis are able to retain and motivate employees.
Employees are looking for regular feedback. This can be done through company newsletters, employee meetings, and regular employee reviews. Face-to-face encounters such as employee meetings should allow for employee questions and discussions. Employee reviews should allow not only for feedback from the supervisor to the employee, but also for feedback from the employee to the supervisor regarding supervisor performance and broader company issues.
Ties “Go To” Employees
One of my previous supervisors taught me that ties should go to the employee. Any time that a situation is unclear, the employee should get the benefit of the doubt. This shows the employee that the company supports its personnel and that there is a fairness that they may not find in other companies.
High Expectations with Measurable Goals
Almost everyone can perform better and should be encouraged to reach challenging and measurable goals. Not every goal will be achieved, but those that are should be celebrated, and those that are not should be readjusted, so they can be achieved in the future.
Employees should be recognized as the company’s greatest assets. While most companies would agree with this in principle, they often do not support it in their day-to-day actions. What is needed is proactive management that looks for ways to encourage, motivate, and celebrate the success of their employees. When done well, the work force is motivated, customer service improves, and goals are achieved or even exceeded, which leads to better corporate performance and growing shareholder value.