I was watching TV the other day when one of those Best
Buy commercials featuring a real employee talking about how they assisted a
customer comes on. You could tell that the person was genuine about making that
individual’s day. Though it won’t win a Clio, I can’t help but pay attention
when that particular advertisement airs.
I guess it’s because the commercial clearly demonstrates
that the real power of any company is generated by employees. Regardless of
industry – be it, say, a local restaurant or a U.S.-based airline – it’s the
people working for that organization that have the capability to make or break
it. What’s more, no policy, training program, or directive from the management
team will change it.
That’s why I view my role as a CEO to be, in large part,
ensuring that my team is empowered and motivated to not only perform their
assigned duties, but to challenge themselves to come up with new ideas that
will exceed even their own expectations. Doing so also gives our employees a
real stake in how the company performs. It’s one of the key reasons we’ve been
able to grow rapidly, despite the recession, and land ourselves on the Inc.
5,000 list two years running.
So while I don’t proclaim to be a subject matter expert
in taking care of employees, I want to offer some ideas that I have found to
work at TV Ears:
Say please and thank you. These are the two most
important phrases for a manager to learn. Saying them in a genuine fashion
tells an employee that their work and input is valued. CEOs shouldn’t be afraid
to use them often.
Select your attitude. Much to my surprise, I find that
I can affect the tone of the office simply by my mood at work. If I’m in a
funk, there’s a good chance employees will be too.
Celebrate success. Big or small, celebrating
accomplishments should be a weekly occurrence. They can range from monetary
compensation to public “Atta boy/Atta girl” mentions. I try to single out good
things that our folks do as often as I can, and strongly encourage the rest of
our management team to do the same.
Help make the office fun. There’s no substitute for
helping to make everyone enjoy coming to work and contributing. I’ve found that
just going around the shop and saying hello is a good way to start. Surprising
folks with pizza for lunch or the occasional impromptu happy hour or office
game also keeps things lively. Believe it or not, it can be a boost to
productivity as well by getting everyone loose and help let go some steam that
comes naturally when folks are putting their nose to the grindstone.
Over the years I’ve found that taking care of employees has more to do with communicating how much I value their contributions to the team and company. Good pay and benefits notwithstanding, most folks in the workplace want to know that what they do matters and that they’re making a difference. I feel my job is to make sure they know that they are.