Category Archives: Core Values
It’s a wonderful privilege to honor your people through the various Employee Appreciation Days and Weeks.
Whether it’s Nurses Appreciation Week, Administrative Professionals Day, Maintenance Appreciation Week, Customer Service Appreciation Week or any of the other recognized weeks, they give a tremendous opportunity to deepen the level of engagement in your organization.
And yet many, many organizations, and particularly the leaders of those teams or organizations, display a shameful treatment of their employees that reveal to all of their people how they truly value them.
Consider some of these actual examples that leaders executed to show “appreciation” for their people:
- Ice cream sandwiches. (Yes, that was it! That was all they received!)
- Spotify gift cards – for new accounts only. Most of the employees had existing or shared accounts and ended up re-gifting these.
- The Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts gift card with just enough on it for a free coffee, not even a Venti or a Latte. (This happens more often that you realize)
- Leftover food from first and second shifts. (We appreciate the people on third shift but don’t want to stay up late to make that extra effort for them)
- Company t-shirts, mugs or anything else that praises the company and not the employee.
- Cheap nail clippers, name badge holders, pens, hats that no one will wear, and so on (you get the picture)
- Holiday hams, but nothing for vegetarian employees
- Letting budget be an excuse for not doing anything special (“That’s all we have budgeted for the week”)
These very examples (and many, many more) are just some of the reasons why employee engagement scores low in most organizations.
Great leaders know that while appreciating your team is an every day, purposeful event, when it’s time to focus such as the various appreciation weeks, going above and beyond will go a long way in keeping your culture intact.
If you want to make your people truly feel APPRECIATED keep these following principles in mind:
- So something different each day and every day throughout the week. Food one day, cards the next, auction off some gifts another day … be creative. Mix it up day to day and year to year.
- Have all the leaders spend whatever time is needed to execute and host and serve. (One year our leadership team spend all night making truffles and bagging them for the staff)
- Be available at all times to personally serve and thank your people. If that means giving up sleep for 3rd shift employees, or coming in on weekends and nights, then that is what you need to do. Nothing is more impressive than when a staff member sees their leader traveling to the remote facility, showing up at 1:00am, or hopping in their truck or loading dock to meet them personally.
- Don’t make a fool of yourself. Long speeches, drinking, or being inappropriate with your humor will do more harm than good.
- Careful of making recognition fun that doesn’t connect. Watch your people for their reaction and change course as needed. Get employee feedback throughout the year for what they want.
- Know your audience. If you give gifts that no one wants or can use (such as the holiday ham to the vegetarian), or show appreciation that misses the mark (such as humor or fun events that people think are boring or in poor taste, this can backfire on you. Study and know your people throughout the year to find what the culture of the team will appreciate.
- Be there. Don’t schedule vacations, seminars, or board meetings during this time. They want to see you. If at all possible ride with them, work alongside them, or find a means to connect during their work week to understand them better as not just employees but as PEOPLE.
- Spare no expense. That doesn’t mean to be unwise in your stewardship of company finances, but to be cheap (or frugal or however you justify it) will only make the employees feel cheap and undervalued. So many companies skimp on training and other initiatives for their people, that you will make a huge impact in letting them know the company and its leaders spent decent money on them.
Engagement and retaining talent starts with appreciation. Not only during a given week, but in every day, make your people know that they are appreciated in the way that THEY, not you, want.
Today’s post is courtesy of Mark Miller. Mark began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do (2007). More recently, he released Chess Not Checkers (2015), and Leaders Made Here (2017). His latest is Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People (February 2018). Today, over 1 million copies of Mark’s books are in print in more than two dozen languages.
What’s the hardest thing a leader has to do? Honestly, I’m not sure.
For me, it varies with the circumstances of the day. However, if I pull up and stop fighting fires and escape the entanglements of growing bureaucracy, I think I might vote for Ensuring Alignment.
Having seen our organization grow from less than two dozen staff to almost 2,000, I can say the task of keeping everyone aligned is mind-boggling. However, regardless of the difficulty factor, I believe Ensuring Alignment is one of the leader’s highest priorities – and one with incalculable returns.
For these reasons, I was not surprised when we began sorting through all we learned from our Top Talent research project about their expectations for their leaders, and landed on this idea of Ensuring Alignment as a leadership best practice. No organization drifts toward a big vision – you drift out to sea or over a waterfall, but you don’t drift to greatness.
Here’s an excerpt from the Talent Magnet Field Guide on this topic…
“When organizations work together, they set themselves apart. Clearly, alignment accelerates impact. Leaders who want to position their organizations to accomplish a Bigger Vision must Ensure Alignment; only then can they harness the collective energy of those they lead. Without alignment, energy, productivity, and impact will suffer.
Picture a tug of war. If leaders can get everyone in the organization on the same side of the rope pulling together toward the vision, their competition is in trouble. When everyone is in sync, not only is the existing workforce energized, but potential talent will be drawn to the team.
Alignment permeates every aspect of a high-performance culture. Leaders know they must model the way and continually work to train team members to embrace the vision, mission, values, systems, and strategy if they hope to execute at a high level. If they succeed, everyone wins. Additionally, they position themselves to be an employer of choice for Top Talent.”
As a leader, you must choose where to invest your time. You can thrash away neck deep in the weeds of busyness or you can make a strategic decision to build an aligned culture. Choose to Ensure Alignment and you will be a step closer to becoming a place so attractive, Top Talent will be standing in line to work for your organization.
About Mark Miller
Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, he joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, Mark has steadily increased his value at Chick-fil-A and has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction.
Today, he serves as the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to over $9 billion. The company now has more than 2,300 restaurants in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
When not working to sell more chicken, Mark is actively encouraging and equipping leaders around the world. He has taught at numerous international organizations over the years on topics including leadership, creativity, team building, and more.
One of my favorite pastimes during college was a bunch of my buddies playing a baseball simulation game called “Baseball Challenge”. This was a board game from the late 70’s/early 80’s that was a lot of fun and heavy on real-life game simulation.
One of the mechanics in the game was at certain times a fielder could make an “Extra Effort” roll to make a failed play into a successful one. This was always fun part of the game and many a game outcome was changed because the fielder made the “extra effort”.
Whether your workplace is one for gamification or not, Extra Effort is something every leader should strive for, both within themselves and each person on their team.
Extra effort can be a game changer for a variety of reasons:
- It can build customer loyalty instead of leaving a lukewarm experience
- A sale or new account can be won out from a competitor’s bid
- Employees can be converted from passives to promoters
- Difficult goals that may not be met can be attained
- Teams can ride out dry spells in revenue or innovation
Leadership should define what extra effort should look like. It’s more than just working 12 hours a day, and then taking work home at night (a poor work-life balance example). Whether it’s to “embody the values“, put forth resolve, or stick out the right course of action, you can instill the proper mindset of giving extra in even the smallest of actions.
Some suggestions on giving extra effort for both yourself and an example to your teams:
- Making another sales call before wrapping up for the day
- Spend 5 extra minutes to review your presentation
- Taking time out to connect with a customer or employee
- Doing a quality check on products before shipping
- Touching base with staff in a department for 10-15 minutes
- Having a follow-up call on a customer to ensure follow-through after the sale
- Sending a “Thank You” card or email to every job candidate
- Reading your emails for spelling and context before sending
- Spending a few moments working alongside your staff
There are so many ways to give “Extra Effort”. It’s a matter of finding a need and giving up something of smaller value for something that will have a greater return. Not necessarily an immediate or tangible return, but one that will build more value to those within your organization and those your organization serves.
(racing image: healthworksergo; baseball challenge: kypris.com)