The employees of a business keep the business going. Without the employees, there would be nothing. Employees need to stay happy and productive in order to keep the business alive. One of the major factors contributing to employee happiness is work relationships between coworkers, and between the employee and manager. There are many ways to maintain healthy relationships with employees to keep the business environment in good standing and the success of the business moving forward. Plus, relationships are what build better workplace culture. Below are five ways managers and employees can build healthy relationships.
To keep up good relationships with employees and avoid the risk of losing them, consider rewarding employees when good work is done. Employee recognition can range from a thoughtful card to personalized gifts or company-wide outings. The best way to capitalize on recognition is by knowing the person you are recognizing. Don’t feel like you, as the manager, always have to be the only one recognizing great work. Have employees within each team or department appreciate each other through their own nominations. This can also bring more unity among coworkers. Simplly put, appreciating your employees will deepen your relationship and retention rate.
Be friendly, but don’t play favorites
Though this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how common it still is today in the workplace. The one thing for employers to remember when being friendly towards employees is to not play favorites. Favoritism in the office is bad because it can cause other employees to feel disrespected and forced out. An employer should be friendly with all employees, not one more than another. Just remember not to be too friendly where employees can take advantage of the situation. An employer should build good rapport with the employees where they feel comfortable, not scared or intimidated.
For example, employers should emphasize friendliness in the company culture through team building activities so employees feel more comfortable with each other. The more friendly employees are with each other, the more growth within the office.
Better communication tactics
Find better ways to communicate with employees—don’t settle for the norms of email and chat. Part of being approachable is making sure more than one way of communication is possible between employees. Poor communication can lead to friction and inefficiency in the workplace. Basically, create an environment where employees are comfortable conversing ideas and asking questions with one another. This way, you’re not only strengthening culture, but helping employees grow by learning from each other.
In addition, have a level of transparency by keeping each other in the loop. Employees can harbor negative feelings when they feel the company engages in secretive actions that directly impact the employee. Instead, consider meaningful company meetings and face-to-face discussions when something comes up. Retention rates remain high when employees feel like they are informed on company business.
Along with better communication, managers should be sure they are really listening to employees. Have a virtual suggestion box where employees can anonymously leave comments and tips concerning the workplace. However, the second half of listening is acting on what employees want. Through their suggestions, create an office environment where employees are the most engaged and productive. Employees will also be more aware and positive when they know upper management is actively listening.
Employees training employees
We all know personalized training helps employees grow and have a greater sense of purpose within the company. Why not take career development to the next level and have employees teach each other what they know? Have them become experts in fields and teach others how to become experts. It will not only increase employee morale, but help those less inclined socially to become more social in the office. New relationships can be formed and again, create a friendlier office culture.
All and all, remember to keep healthy relationships among your coworkers to insure a greater company culture and the well-being of the company overall.
About the Author: A previous guest contributor to Women of HR, JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.
In Human Resources, as much as any professional discipline, we women have hit our stride. Given the opportunity to compete in the field, we’ve succeeded: to reduce turnover, attract and retain those diamonds in the rough, and build reputations for respectable (and even press-worthy) organizational culture. It’s been our ticket to the C-suites of the Fortune 500 – and not a moment too soon. And as the scope of the job changes from “intuition” to data-driven strategy, we have the chance to show our adaptability, too.
But then again, our stature puts us in an awkward position. Despite our best efforts to promote organization-wide diversity and inclusion, all too often we discover unfair treatment – especially of women.
And we want to do something about it.
Really, you want to do what’s best for your own professional development and career goals, but you also want to support the marginalized, underrepresented people in your own organization. How can you do both of these things both effectively and fairly? Even if these distinct goals aren’t completely at odds, how do you send a message to those around you what your priorities are?
It’s a question I’ve seen come up to the surface over and over for a long time. Our exit interview software actually came out of a project to identify the greatest barriers to the advancement of women and minorities in the workplace. We’ve uncovered pivotal opportunities for our clients, but we’ve also encountered challenges that most executives would hope to sweep under the rug.
One of the best – and worst – parts of creating a truly anonymous exit interview system is the abundance of brutally honest answers.
These are the real voices of women at one of our clients. This is a large (10,000+) and decentralized organization, but neither a poor performer nor ideologically backwards. The employees’ reasons for leaving, for example, hardly deviate from our measured industry norms. And yet comments like these are far too common:
“The biggest thing I noticed at [the company] is that if you’re a woman, you had better act ladylike. There was nothing more contemptible than a woman who spoke her mind. As a woman you were supposed to just nod and do as you were told. I was described as “aggressive.” I’m not aggressive. I am passionate and dedicated. I take pride in what I do and do it well. This is not what was rewarded. Being demure seems to be ‘leadership’ quality most desired at [the company].”
“My boss had a very hard time providing accolades, at least to the women who reported to her. She didn’t seem to have a problem telling the men who reported to her that they were doing a good job or even giving them credit for work done by somebody else, but she had a hard time telling a woman that she was doing a good job… Most of the time, my boss would cut me off if I started to speak during a meeting.”
“Men are definitely recognized more than women in the department.”
“I was repeatedly harassed by [a male coworker]. When I demanded it stop… [he] went to management and lied.”
“I was harassed several times and nothing was done about it.”
Of course I’ve picked a few especially unpleasant-to-read examples, but haven’t you felt this way at least once in your career? If not, I envy you. If you’re anything like me, this sounds all too familiar, if a bit distant. And, if you’re anything like me, part of why you’re still in the business is because you believe it doesn’t have to be this way.
But what now?
Imagine these were your findings. Or, maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you’ve already faced this issue within your organization. How do you deal with it? Tell us in the comment section.
About the Author: Deb Dwyer is the founder and president of HSD Metrics, a provider of organizational surveys designed to increase retention, engagement and organizational effectiveness. With over 30 years of combined experience in human resource management and survey research, Deb’s extensive knowledge reaches beyond organizational research to include expertise in work climate improvement, retention, hiring and selection, employee orientation, performance management systems, recognition programs and career development systems.
Diversity. What does it mean to you (aside from a pretty handy street dance troupe)? It’s an important topic to mull over because the modern workplace is expected to employ a diverse workforce, with HR departments obviously playing a crucial role in the process.
But as with so many valuable concepts, the risk of the principle being lost in the rhetoric and its substance replaced by an empty corporate buzz word is high. As HR employees – dealing with the people behind the labels – it is our duty to clarify the recruitment process we are expected to implement and highlight any practical issues that arise.
Diversity and the ‘tick box’ culture
One of the measures of a diverse workplace is how closely it reflects the make-up of the society in which it operates. This has led to government statisticians compiling lists of percentages where citizens are divided into their ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation and numerous other categories and the numbers compared – often unfavourably – with the make up of the company.
If we’re not careful, this can lead to diversity being treated as another item to be included on a growing list of corporate targets. ‘Do we have a disabled guy? Good. Five per cent ethnic minorities? Great. We’re running at 55-45 gender split though; need to even that up a bit.’
Here we stray into that contentious issue of ‘positive discrimination’, and whether it is ever right to recruit someone on the basis of their age, gender, sexual orientation or cultural background. Whatever your position about that, it is a very real dilemma that the Human Resource department has to grapple with – diversity in the real world rather than a utopian concept.
Do we still have an appetite for diversity?
Recent world events have even cast doubts on the value of diversity itself. Struggling economies have led to high levels of unemployment and the accusation by some disgruntled citizens that their jobs are being taken by people from minority backgrounds. And there is no doubt that recruiters in many fields have sought to actively import talent where there is a perceived lack of it from amongst the local employment pool.
With the media highlighting the negative aspects of muticulturalism and the dangers of excessively liberal policies, and the rise of nationalist parties in the political sphere, even the politicians’ are displaying quite schizophrenic behaviours as they reflect the public’s ambivalence over diversity.
Companies as diversity in action
The modern workplace, to varying degrees, mirrors the situation in society at large. People from different backgrounds come together for a common cause and while there are inevitably culture clashes and disagreements there is also a lot of solidarity and shared identity. A company’s success seems often to be related to the extent to which its workforce has been integrated, enabling everyone to pull together. But is there more that a diverse workplace can offer up?
Attack of the Clones
In our drive for diversity, we must ensure that the people we recruit are given the support and freedom to actually express their unique qualities and perspectives. In a modern workplace we need to utilise the full richness of each individual’s experience and tap into their irreplaceable skills and strengths, if we are to remain relevant and competitive as a unit.
Employees are not just representatives of particular demographics in society, they are living, communicating windows into the minds and hearts of the people who share significant elements of their background. If one of our employees uses a wheelchair, he or she will be invaluable in assessing how accessible our company is to other wheelchair users. If a female employee objects to the chauvanistic workplace culture then ignore her at your peril. It is highly likely that sexism is coming across in our products and services, alienating women in society.
In some ways, a diverse company is a gift which gives us the opportunity to interact with society at a deeper, more inclusive level. But we must still make the most of the richness at our disposal by treating employees as respected individuals. Otherwise we risk creating a sham diversity rather like the clone troopers in the Star Wars stories. Here, the individual troopers are largely identified by surface differences alone (hairstyle, uniform trim, etc.) to compensate for the fact that they are all cloned from one source.
Is diversity still on the menu? Absolutely, but only the best restaurants can combine all of the flavours into one appetizing dish.
About the Author: Nicole Dominique Le Maire has gained a reputation as a highly valued leader within the female business and Human Resources Industry. As a multi-talented woman entrepreneur and a global people connector, she is also the co-author of two books, including “The Female Leader.” As a result, she has gained tremendous experience guiding startups and entrepreneurs which has supplemented her MBA, MAHRM, and MCIPD and this has catapulted her to become one of the top leaders in the Human Resources industry. Get in touch via twitter @NicoleLeMaire or one of the business websites, humanresourcesglobal.com, newtohr.com, thefemaleleader.biz
There was a time, not very long ago, when service awards as part of most companies’ recognition strategy was the norm. Employees were regularly honored for a certain number of years of commitment to the organization with anything from a certificate, to a trinket, to the opportunity to select from a catalog of a variety of household or recreational items, depending on their total number of years of service.
Some argue that service awards are a dying breed; that in a world where loyalty (on both sides of the equation) is a commodity to be casually tossed around, where employee tenures are shorter and shorter, that there’s just no relevance in recognizing years of service. Instead of rewarding employees for the number of years they’ve put in, something that is becoming increasingly meaningless to employees, we should be recognizing them in other ways, such as for specific achievements, outcomes, and contributions to organizational success.
This idea that service awards are no longer relevant may be true in some companies and certain industries; I would suspect that, for instance, in high tech, Silicon Valley type organizations where talent is regularly recruited away by the next up-and-coming start-up, or where contract work is much more common, and where tenure is measured in months rather than years, service recognition likely holds little value.
But what about those industries and organizations where long-term employment is more the norm than the exception? And yes, these companies and industries do still exist. I work in the grocery retail industry and just recently we recognized over 300 (yes, 300!) employees who have dedicated 25, 30, 35, 40, and even 45 and FIFTY years of service to our company. And though this year was an unusually large number of honorees, it is typical for us to annually recognize well over 200. We do this through dinners in each of our operating regions, at which honorees and their guests are treated to a nice meal and a program which includes short bios of each of the honorees, personal congratulations by our executive team, and a small gift and token of appreciation.
I can honestly say, there is nothing quite like the look of pride and appreciation on the faces of these honorees; pride in making an life out of an honest day’s work from the simplest of beginnings in one of the simplest and most common places in all of our lives – a grocery store. Pride in a job well done, pride in simple service to a specific community and regular customers. You’d be hard pressed to convince me that service awards aren’t relevant…in our little corner of the world.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest trends in the HR space, as we should. As good HR professionals we should make it our business to be in tune with what those trends are. But it’s also very easy to want to just jump to conclusions based on what we read or by what various “thought leaders” are saying. But as good HR professionals, we also need to learn to take what we read or hear, assess it, and make decisions based on what’s best for OUR organizations. For me and my company, that means realizing that service awards are still VERY relevant. They are an integral part of an overall recognition strategy that also includes various other components and rewards related to performance and other criteria, and foregoing them for just the other pieces of the strategy would be detrimental to overall morale.
Read. Listen. Learn. Assess and apply your knowledge. Then do what’s best for you, in your company and your world.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
What is a great corporate culture? Among other things, it’s that intangible something that motivates and inspires employees to do their best work, whether they are under the watchful eyes of management or not. But a great corporate culture doesn’t happen overnight. It must be consciously cultivated and constantly protected as one of the company’s greatest assets. After all, that culture—that unique “collective corporate environment”—is what drives productivity and sets an organization apart from its competitors. Being that creating a healthy corporate culture is essential for all businesses, here’s a look at two key factors—Employee Recognition and Discipline—and the importance of each in creating and protecting your corporate culture.
In many ways you could call employee recognition a culture within itself. After all, what better way to recruit and retain top talent than by being recognized as a company that knows how to recognize and appreciate its employees? It’s no wonder that employee recognition programs are becoming more prominent among small and large organizations, as they can help businesses create and protect a positive corporate culture by…
Creating an atmosphere of trust and respect
Proper recognition helps create an environment where employees are encouraged to openly share ideas and opinions because they feel that what they have to say is important to the company and appreciated by management. Good managers understand that recognition isn’t always about the pat on the back or some tangible reward. True recognition is more about employees being able to actively contribute in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, without fear of reproach or being shot down.
Fueling employee engagement
It’s no secret that engaged employees are happier employees. Recognition programs can help to fuel greater employee engagement by appropriately recognizing individual achievements, at the same time encouraging more of the same. The most effective rewards are specific to the task that has been accomplished. They are also all-inclusive, being distributed across all levels of the organization so every employee feels that they have a fair chance of receiving recognition. Rewards should also be delivered quickly with respect to the task or behavior that is being recognized. And finally, the more meaningful and relevant the reward is, the more it will fuel a corporate culture of happy and engaged employees.
Reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the entire organization
A corporate culture has the power to influence every aspect of an organization for good or bad. Employee recognition and rewards programs help to promote a positive culture by reinforcing positive behaviors throughout the entire organization. This is especially true of “strategic” employee recognition, which can spur innovation by encouraging employees to repeat desired behaviors over and over.
Unlike the word implies, discipline, with respect to building and protecting a corporate culture is not about implementing and enforcing a cold harsh set of rules. Discipline is about creating the desired climate from the top down. It’s about management teams that are committed to:
Set and communicate clear goals
Employees respond well to management that clearly communicates corporate goals and expectations. Clear goals help employees recognize the specific roles they play in helping the company accomplish its objectives. In addition, clear and realistic goals, along with suitable recognition for achieving those goals, challenges and motivates employees to do their best work, which is what a great corporate culture is all about.
Model the desired culture
Think of a business with a great culture and you can be sure that the desired corporate values and expectations are modeled from top leadership on down. Practicing what is preached allows management to effectively discuss corporate values, principals and behavioral expectations with employees in an open and positive atmosphere. Plus, leading by example sets a true standard that employees will more willingly try to emulate.
Even the most motivated employees need managers to lead them to act. And they tend to respond best to managers who hold themselves to the same standards of excellence, responsibility and accountability that they ask of employees. Especially those leaders that actively and effectively recognize and reward employee accomplishments. This type of leadership is essential for cultivating and protecting a positive corporate culture.
About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finance. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching solid entrepreneur advice.
Three things needed for a long term relationship are commitment, caring and communication. Just as partners in a successful marriage, who are committed to one another, understand the benefits they receive from one another, employees and employers require the same. Employees need to achieve results and employers to provide stability.
Caring is not a word used often in employment agreements but love has a place in the corporate world. The best employers treat their employees well by providing competitive salaries and benefits, training supervisors to manage effectively, giving employees the tools that they need to do their jobs, and, most important, letting employees know how they are doing. Employees show that love back by being passionate about quality and loyal to the companies for whom they work.
And then there is communication. In order to sustain a long term and healthy relationship with employees, smart companies provide job descriptions, mission statements, vision, goals, and frequent performance feedback. And smart employees, who understand where the company is headed and what they need to do, offer innovation.
Just like a successful marriage takes work, the relationship between employers and employees requires the same commitment, caring and communication, not just offered once, but provided continuously over the long term.
About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.
The fundamental idea of ‘giving’ is nothing new to women (women give birth, produce life-giving milk, etc.) but ‘giving’ as a professional philosophy is a path far too often looked upon as sacrificial or inferior by its very nature. After all, for every giver there must necessarily be a taker.
Think about it: Companies don’t want to ‘give’ away their edge in the market or secrets to the competition; if you ‘give’ credit to someone else, you may forfeit your own best interests. And then there’s the ultimate professional ‘no-no’ of ‘giving’ up and letting sales or clients walk out the door.
In all of these scenarios, giving has a negative connotation and no one wants to be on the short end of that stick, least of all women, who still routinely feel the need to work harder and be tougher than men just to be viewed as equals.
But what if cultivating a spirit of giving in the workplace could be just the thing your company needs to get ahead, both professionally and individually?
And consider the possibilities if women were to give from a place of strength rather than from a place of weakness or fear. Next stop: World domination!
But seriously, cultivating a corporate spirit of giving has many far-reaching benefits, and they don’t stop with the people within our professional spheres – they are simply where it starts. And you can be the catalyst to bring about your workplace’s emphasis on internal and external acts of altruism.
For more specifics on why getting in the grove of giving back is good for business, consider the following:
Giving Can Help you feel like a Natural Woman
A recent study presented in the Wall Street Journal indicates that humans are hard-wired for giving.
The study tested the brain’s responses to giving and the surprising results revealed that when people give to charity or extend aid to others, they stimulate a pleasure-sensing portion of the brain. In essence, giving to charity is neurologically similar to ingesting an addictive drug or learning you’ve hit the jackpot. Basically, giving back feels good!
As an added element to the test, subjects were presented with both voluntary and involuntary giving. For example, there were some instances wherein people could choose to give to charity and it was completely of their own free will to do so. Other times, the computer would simply inform them that they were required to give (similar to taxation).
Perhaps not so surprisingly, people responded more positively to the occasions where they were in control of their actions. Although the brain still registered good vibes when the people were forced to give, they were not nearly as strong as when the subjects gave on their own.
In terms of what this means for you and developing your own corporate spirit of giving, make giving voluntary and then lead by example. You’ll find that when you do what you’re naturally inclined to do, you can get back to feeling more like a natural woman!
Giving is Beneficial to your Corporate Bottom Line
When you encourage employees and co-workers to help each other, they can not only feel better about themselves but they can also boost business.
For one thing, the idea that two heads are better than one, three are better than two, and so on becomes front and center for creating synergy within your teams. And when it ceases to be a competition and instead becomes a common goal, great things can happen!
At the same time, communities want to support companies who are about more than themselves. By implementing a philosophy of giving back every day, you can expand your professional impact and your client base at the same time.
What are some of the other benefits women can experience by fostering a culture of corporate giving?
About the Author: Myrna Vaca is the Head of Marketing and Communications at Lyoness America, where she is responsible for marketing, communication and business development efforts. The Lyoness Child & Family Foundation (CFF) is actively involved in supporting children, adolescents and families worldwide, especially in the field of education. Check out Lyoness on Twitter.
Healthy employees make for a healthy bottom line. The mental and physical health of your employees has a direct effect on your business’ performance. To emphasize this synergy, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at health-focused companies that won its Health Achievement Award and found they consistently outperformed the
Standard & Poor’s 500 index between 1999 and 2012. Companies that emphasize a healthy work culture are more valuable to investors and remarkably impact business performance.
Laughter: An Important Ingredient in a Healthy Workplace
Sure, businesses offer company-sponsored health programs, and the typical ambitious businessperson participates in them. Yet among yoga practice and running, laughter in the workplace can also improve health. Laughter has numerous health benefits—it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormone levels, improves cardiac health and releases endorphins, according to Gaiam Life. Laughter is a healthy high that creates a productive and more engaged working environment.
“Health, happiness and productivity are intrinsically linked,” Josh Stevens told FoxBusiness.com. As CEO of Keas, a workplace health and wellness program, Stevens believes poor health directly affects employee disengagement, lost productivity and low job satisfaction. Employers can use humor as a cost-effective tool that improves an employee’s mental and physical health for enhanced productivity. Humor can release tension and reduce boredom for tedious and repetitive work. A hearty laugh can lower anxiety and stress, which helps an employee concentrate and focus on high-pressure projects.
Embrace a laid-back, relaxing (and productive) work environment where employees can naturally be themselves and make jokes. In an Australian study of 2,500 employees, 81 percent of the surveyed employees believe a fun working environment correlates to more productivity, and 93 percent said on-the-job laughing lowers work-related stress, according to the essay “Humor in the Workplace: Anecdotal Evidence Suggests Connection to Employee Performance.” A Robert Half International survey supports the humor and productivity relationship—84 percent of surveyed execs believe people who have a good sense of humor do better on the job.
Humor connects employees and boosts employee team-building, which creates an open, expressive and trusting work environment. If employees can bond over a silly joke and share a laugh, then those same employees are likely to positively collaborate on ideas and work well together on a project to achieve a common goal.
Get Merrier This Holiday Season
Welcome humor into the workplace by creating a non-hierarchical, innovative office culture that encourages employees to comfortably be who they are (within common-sense, professional limitations, of course). As the end of 2013 approaches, here are some fun holiday-themed events you can use to keep up employee momentum and motivation:
- Invite co-workers to happy hour
- Host a funny family photo contest. Invite employees to submit their silliest Christmas card photos and then create a presentation for the company. Ask employees to vote for their favorite and award first, second and third place winners with a PTO day or gift card.
- Throw an office party and welcome employees’ partners and kids—you can even have Santa on hand.
Use the holidays as an easy transition into a more laid-back workplace that encourages employee humor (and higher performance) for 2014.
About the Author: Henry Griffith is a life coach for personal and professional needs. He works closely with several health and wellness organizations to promote healthy living in the workplace and at home. He has given multiple motivational speeches to public and private organizations. Now that he has small children of his own, he is taking time to write, travel with his kids and work on a book about healthy family living.
Corporate culture is the heartbeat of every good company, helping it to run smoothly and bringing the organization to life. It is essential for all employees in a corporate environment to not only understand the workload expectations, but the company culture as well. Here are some “how to” tips on corporate culture training to better communicate company values, visions, and strategic priorities.
- Schedule corporate culture training as a required professional development program for all different teams and positions throughout the company. This will allow individuals to be on the same page and help instill the culture throughout all teams.
- Rather than having the Human Resources department present the culture training, have professionals from Operations and Senior Executives who do not report directly to the CEO present the material. This will help to keep the focus on work-based cultural scenarios Also, do not discriminate when selecting individuals to lead the cultural training. Rather than prioritizing minorities or women to be engaged or act as group leaders, have a good blend of all different individuals that represent your company.
- Stress the importance of culture training, yet recognize that it is a piece to the larger whole in driving the organization’s values and mission to eventually lead to success.
- When talking about improvements that need to be made, start from the top of the company and work down. Following this path will help to engage even the lowest employee and not make them feel as though all the responsibility is on them.
- Do not think that culture training will correct discriminatory behaviors or discouraged practices in the work place. See this environment as a place to help prevent future unprofessional behaviors and teach employees what is expected of them before problems arise.
- Finally, do not solely evaluate how impactful the training is through responses provided by participants or facilitators. Wait to see if there is improvement or change in the workplace by monitoring the environment and look for key distinguishing factors that were discussed at the training. Also, make sure that follow-up is provided to reinforce the content, and hold individuals accountable for the new policies and practices taught.
It is essential to know that all employees are fully aware of the corporate culture and what is expected of them. Providing a training session that goes over this topic is a great way to engage employees and present the materials and expectations before problems arise.
This post was contributed by Kelsey Grabarek on behalf of Dale Carnegie Training, the training company founded on the principles of the famous speaker and author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Visit Dale Carnegie Training online to learn more about leadership training.
Photo credit iStockphoto
The other day I happened upon the Fast Company article 12 Trends That Will Rule Products In 2013. The article was focused on consumer goods like phones and washing machines, but you know what? The trends listed made sense in the context of the workplace too and here’s why: your employees are consumers. It’s inevitable that their consumer purchasing behavior will shape their attitudes at work as well.
Here are four trends Fast Company listed that have implications for those of us in the human resources and management functions of our companies. These trends are driving employee expectations; a wise organizational leader pays attention to these inclinations and responds accordingly.
Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone. The article states, “The crucial element in any customer experience is still people, no matter how much technology has transformed the landscape.” Do not be seduced by what your company’s latest technology can do. The “gee whiz!” factor gets old fast – for both employees and your organization’s external customers.
Worth is determined by philosophy, not price. Can you say “intense, endless salary negotiations?” The Fast Company authors ask, “How do you determine a product’s intrinsic worth?” They say that rather than focusing on price, focus on alignment in values. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Then why is it that when the “product” is a talented job candidate, we often get mired in “nickel-and-diming” during the negotiation process? Either an employee will bring a talent set and corresponding values alignment, or s/he won’t. Are you willing to pay for that? If not, quit wasting your time and theirs.
Narrative is a delivery vehicle to make information stick. The Heath brothers made this point with Made to Stick many years ago, but it bears repeating, because, some of us still haven’t figured it out. For example, company policies and procedures are D.U.L.L. but they’re important to efficient business operation. Where’s the “story” behind why you must implement the new policy? If there’s no compelling narrative, maybe you don’t need that policy after all.
Human interaction has never been more precious. “Look for places to act more human.” We’re all fatigued with automated everything. Sure, we love the convenience, but sometimes we just crave an interactive experience with a real person. Like the Discover TV ad that features a customer who is surprised when an actual human answers her call, as leaders and HR managers, we must remember to value the power of a conversation.
Everyone is a specialist. The other day a colleague told me that they were consolidating job functions in the sales division; their sales reps would move from selling three lines of very complex business to eight. That’s insanity. The Fast Company article states “trying to be everything to everyone is a losing proposition.” I agree. People love to “show what they know” and that’s pretty tough when they must “know” everything.
Taking a seemingly unrelated topic like consumer behavior and applying it to workplace issues can help offer insights we might otherwise overlook. As leaders in our respective functions we can glean new insights on bringing out the best in our employees with a slight tweak in perspective.
What say you? How do you see consumer behavior outside the office influencing the way employees act in the workplace?
About the author: For 20+ years, Jennifer V. Miller has been helping professionals “master the people equation” to maximize their personal influence. A former HR generalist and training manager, she now advises executives on how to create positive, productive workplace environments. She is the founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource and blogs at The People Equation. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter as @JenniferVMiller.
Image credit: leolintang / 123RF Stock Photo