They want to know that their jobs can and do make a difference.
When all three of these conditions are met, bottom line results come through as organizations create a climate of excellence.
Just as George Bailey learned in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” employees who know that their contributions are worthwhile can make all the difference.
Power of satisfaction
We all know that satisfied employees communicate their satisfaction to customers. Happy employees are helpful, cheerful, conscientious, engaged, and eager to go that extra mile. A workplace staffed by satisfied employees just feels better when you walk in.
Getting it started
How do we get employee satisfaction?
Studer says three things build a core of employee satisfaction:
1. Employees want to feel the organization has the right purpose. Senior leaders represent the “purpose” of the organization. If employees don’t feel good about these men and women, they do not feel good about the company. I recall one CEO who inspired all his employees to be the best they could be.
You trusted this man because you could count on him. However, I recall another CEO whose motives in even offering you a cup of coffee were suspect.
2. Employees want to know that their job is worthwhile. Every employee wants to know that what he or she does for the company is important, Studer emphasizes. When we help employees live up to performance expectations, they will feel empowered to do more for the customers, for their co-workers and for the company. Taking the time to explain how employees fit into the company and why their jobs are important is time well spent by any leader.
3. Employees want to make a difference. When employees see the results of their work, it stokes their passion for their jobs. Success breeds success. Getting results motivates people to persevere and to constantly strive for better results.
We probably all know what employees want, but how do we go about creating the environment to make this happen? If it were easy, every company would have done it by now.
Although initially it appears to be difficult, Studer writes, over time it actually becomes rather simple. Leaders focused on creating excellence in their organizations will use these proven strategies necessary to create a happy and productive workplace.
There are nine rather inexact ways to create such an environment. There is no magical formula as people are complex. However, Studer recommends specific, defined steps which have worked well for his clients:
• Walk around management.
Walking around and talking with your employees to determine their needs is critical to your success.
Let them tell you what is going well and what is not. Think of a doctor talking to his patient trying to determine if the medicines are working. Once you know the problems, fix them accordingly.
Rounding, Studer says, is the heart and soul of building an emotional bank account. It shows employees, on a day-to-day basis, that we care about them.
• Build an ongoing emotional bank account.
If your employees tell you that communication could be better or they want more input in decision-making or they want more positive reinforcement, listen and respond appropriately. Depositing a thank you makes a world of difference in the future.
The day will come when you will not be able to respond to the employees’ satisfaction. Building an emotional bank account daily prepares us for that rainy day when we will have to make a withdrawal. Building goodwill now will help immensely when we have to say, “No.”
• Diagnose employee satisfaction, and act on the results.
Every organization should use an assessment tool to determine problem areas and then commit at once to resolving the problems found.
While the gathered data is important, the ability to communicate that data and the actions taken as a result of the data is key.
From the top down, the communication should show that employee feedback was heard and acted upon in a timely manner.
• Go for ‘quick wins’ to establish credibility.
A quick win is an action that shows your employees that your leaders are really committed to meeting their needs. When you can buy a $100 worth of janitorial supplies and it improves your employee’s morale and ability to do their job, that is a quick win.
• Deal with low performers and understand the impact they have on your team.
High performers want to work with other strong performers. Nothing will discourage your employees more than having to work with people who don’t carry their own weight.
As difficult as it is, low performers must be moved up to middle or high performers or moved out of the organization.
• Dig deeper to find best practices.
If employees tell you that communications is a problem, dig deeper to determine the real issues and then fix them. Look at a leader with good performance scores in communications, dig deeper to find out what he or she is doing and replicate these practices throughout your organization.
• Provide the tools that help your employees do a good job.
Employees must have the tools and resources necessary to excel.
Ask them what they need and get it for them. “How can I help you do a good job?” is a good opening. You may discover that something as simple as a comfortable chair can make all the difference in an employee’s attitude and performance.
• Embrace a consider-it-done attitude and empower your employees to do the same.
When your employees have ownership in your organization, it means they are thinking innovatively, making personal sacrifices and sometimes bending the rules to keep customers happy. Recognize people who provide exceptional customer service.
Hold them up as examples of what you expect other employees to be doing.
• Be open and truthful with your employees, no matter how difficult it may be.
When difficult decisions are made that affect your employees, as difficult as it maybe for you to tell them, be open, upfront and honest.
Don’t dare wait for them to read about it in the newspaper or hear it from the rumor mill.
If you are wondering how honest to be with your employees, consider Mr. Twain’s advice, “When in doubt, tell the truth.”
Focusing on employee satisfaction is not something that can be fixed overnight. Studer notes that many times corporate culture is what happens when the boss is not looking. The same can be said for customer satisfaction.
When your employees are satisfied and happy, they will create a culture of excellence and keep your customers happy in the process.
Remember, satisfied employees are happy to go that extra mile. Happy customers return when helped by happy employees.
Sources: “Results That Last” by Quint Studer
Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong, Armstrong and Associates, is a consultant and counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-340-2006 or www.armstrongassociates.org.