Mike worked for a full-service car wash and went to work every day, happy to have a job. But he wasn’t too enthused about his work environment. Employee morale was so-so, and most long-time employees were merely going through the motions.
Greg, a friend of Mike’s since grade school, also worked in a service business, but in a different industry. They stayed in touch on social media and decided to get together for lunch.
Mike picked Greg up at his work place. He felt inspired when he entered Greg’s place of employment. There was an energy that was hard to describe. It was definitely not the same as at his car wash. He was warmly greeted by Greg’s colleagues, and the facility could only be described as pristine.
At lunch, Mike asked Greg about his job and what he liked about working there. Greg mentioned that the company had a management philosophy that every employee is important, like the links in a chain. They believed in sharing information that reinforces that message.
Every employee plays a role in a business’s performance. It is important that they know their role. This gives them a sense of purpose. It answers the question, “Why does it matter?” Some people always take great pride in their work. They know it reflects on them. Some people only push themselves when others are relying on them to do their part. Sharing the big picture helps to get the most out of these people. Getting the small things right leads to bigger success.
Convey the importance of each employee’s role.Here are five different strategies a leader can use to foster a workplace where every employee feels valued and can contribute to the overall vision of the company.
1. Include All Employees in Strategy Meetings
To the extent possible, involve employees in strategy meetings. When you are contemplating a change in the company’s direction, modifying one or more processes, or seeking new methods to improve delivery, involve the people who perform the tasks before decisions are finalized. They are liable to push back. When they do, use your wisdom and judgment to determine if the push back is valid. If it is valid, figure out a better path forward. This will prevent mistakes that save time and reduce waste. It is the natural reaction to resist change; deal with it now. You will avoid passive-aggressive behavior that will sabotage the path forward. Done right, you will earn the respect and buy-in of your team members. However, things like impending job actions (layoffs, promotions, transfers) must never be shared until it is time. When you are otherwise open, the need for discretion will be respected.
2. Stress the Importance of Every Position
A good leader knows how every employee contributes to the overall performance of the company. Some employees interface with customers. Others provide a clean and safe work environment or maintain equipment. Some create the finished product. All the employees play a part in the success of the company. Good leaders praise the individuals and the teams, both in public and in private, for the significant contribution they make to the success of the organization. This is important. Over time, people who don’t deal with the finished product may forget the significance of their role. They need to be reminded.
3. Share the Big Picture
There is a common fallacy in the workplace that one job contributes more than others to the success of the project or company. It is a great thing when employees realize that what they do is important. It is not so good, however, when the needs of other employees and other affiliated organizations are discounted. Local optimization can result in less than optimal total performance. Explain the bigger picture to your teams. Look at the needs of the other teams and individuals. Understand the other’s position. Explain your organization’s role and the roles of your suppliers and customers. Keep focused on the end-to-end process, not only their link in the chain.
4. Your Business Story
The most powerful story for any business is the story of why the company exists. Who founded the company? What problem did the company originally solve? How did the company evolve into its current state? This works for businesses of all sizes. This is effective in sales. It is also effective in keeping employees motivated. When that story is known and repeated, employees will realize that they are part of growing or preserving a legacy.
5. Maintain an Open-Door Policy
When you involve employees in strategy, communicate the importance of the roles of each employee and see both the big picture of the company and the reason why the company exists, your employees will see you as someone who not only talks communication, but communicates. You can further enhance that relationship by having an open-door policy. Set boundaries and let people know, but invite people to approach you with their concerns or questions. Maybe they come to you. Maybe you walk around and catch them doing things right.
When you share the big picture, every employee feels valued. They know they play a role in the success of the company. Job satisfaction increases. It costs little to do this and brings back big returns.
Driving back to work, Mike realized that this aspect of work culture was missing at the car wash. He thought about his role and how it fit into the bigger picture. He felt better about his job. He vowed to look for ways to help his fellow employees understand their roles in the bigger picture, as well.
Walt Grassl is a speaker, author, and performer. He hosts the radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” on the RockStar Worldwide network. Walt has performed standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas. For more information, please visit www.WaltGrassl.com.