“We value our employees. They are our #1 resource.”
“Our employees are responsible for making this company great.”
Sadly, clichés like these are spoken all too often in organizations with cultures that are anything BUT employee-centric. Unfortunately, some leaders prioritize backwards, first ensuring that investors are pleased, followed by taking care of customers, and a distant third is providing attention and support for the face of their brand, the ones that keep an organization going, its employees!
Richard Branson, a wildly successful investor, and entrepreneur wrote, “No matter your industry, your employees are your company’s real competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen – so long as their needs are being met.”
It’s a simple philosophy – treat employees well and they will do the same for your customers.
Southwest Airlines founder, Herbert D. Kelleher was a huge proponent of the idea that you should treat your employees as customers.
“When you treat them right, then they will treat your outside customers right. That has been a powerful competitive weapon for us.”
Turns out it’s working, with no meals, no TVs, no first class, and no frills, Southwest is still the world’s third-largest airline and just marked its 45th year of profitability. Keeping employees happy, keeps customers happy, and for Southwest, they do it in ways other airlines just don’t.
3 Ways to Make Employees Shine Bright:
1. Prioritize Transparency.
Multiple studies have shown that transparency was the #1 factor contributing to employee happiness. Employees don’t like to be kept in the dark, or what’s referred to as “Mushroom Management.” You’ve probably heard the expression, “feeling like a mushroom,” it means being kept in the dark, left uninformed and fed a bunch of shit!
Research has shown how the term, Mushroom Management is applicable to the workplace in a study which found that:
- Only 10 percent of employees surveyed were aware of their company’s progress in real time.
- More than 4 out of 5 employees surveyed wanted to hear more frequently from their managers about how their company was doing.
- More than 90 percent of employees surveyed said they would rather hear bad news than no news.
2. Stop Hiring for Culture Fit, Hire for the Role.
You’re not hosting happy hour, you’re striving to manage a successful business and find talent capable of delivering on that goal. Culture fit is important, but making it the primary driver of your selection process can also lead to a company full of the same personalities. Customers aren’t one size fits all and employees shouldn’t be either, every organization can benefit from diverse talents and strengths. Hire to match the right person with the right role.
3. Trust Your People.
“I’m the manager, so I make the rules” Archaic command-and-control management hurts an organization, its customers, shareholders, and most importantly, its employees. As managers, we ask employees to commit to customers everyday. As a manager, are you committing to your employees everyday? We’ve all heard the old saying, “if you aren’t going to trust your people, don’t hire them.” So, hire people who are capable of serving your customers and then get out of their way and trust them to serve.
When trust isn’t present team spirit and morale decline, turnover increases, and days end like a fire drill with everyone in a hurry to leave the office. Highly-driven and ambitious individuals cannot possibly thrive in an environment where there’s a lack of trust. When you take autonomy and trust from an employee, you’re taking away their heart. If you believe employees are the heartbeat of the company, consider what happens when hearts stop beating.