Holding onto your best team players

Holding onto your best team players

As a small business manager, you might think that large employers have it “easier” to keep great employees. After all, the big guys can pay more, provide more job security and career advancement, and off better benefits.

Actually, I often see that despite the resources at large companies, the direct managers are not using those resources wisely and have the same issues with retaining their best and brightest.

Here is a list of what they might do, and you can too, to build your fabulous team.

What can your small organization offer that will help you keep your talented employees?

  1. Challenging work— many employers hire a new employee, train them, and then leave them doing a job that becomes routine and frankly, boring. Check in with employees regularly to find out what new assignments you can give to keep them challenged.
  2. Less hassles— a primary reason employees look for another job is a lack of resources to do the job and unreliable co-workers. Encourage your team members to identify hassles and road blocks and then work to eliminate as many as possible.
  3. Work and results tied to something meaningful—the term “second paycheck” was coined to indicate that meaningful work is also rewarding. I have a client that makes concrete products and their employees take pride in the fact that they are part of American manufacturing and their products are used to keep roads and bridges safer.
  4. Involvement in company decisions— employees want to be part of something bigger and feel good about their employer and its direction. Get input on major strategic goals and keep communicating about the why and where your organization is going.
  5. Everyone gets development opportunities— if an employee feels that she has a “dead end job” you definitely won’t get above and beyond work. We recommend that everyone has an annual development plan to work on 3-4 key training goals, such as improving a competency, technical skill or contributing to a major project.

As you can see from this list, the direct manager plays an important role in understanding each employee’s talents and needs, communicating how everyone contributes to the organization’s goals, and involving each person finding how they can match up their interests and goals with what the employer needs.

It’s hard to get your team on board and on the same page if you are hiding in your office— so get out there and talk more with your team.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The “Y” knows how to recognize! The “Story of the Black Bead”

The “Y” knows how to recognize! The “Story of the Black Bead”

Are you recognizing like YMCA? Let me tell you the “Story of the Black Bead.”

And I challenge you to create your own simple and effective recognition program at your work!

Caring, honestly, respect, responsibility—these are the 4 core values of the YMCA and this organization does a terrific job focusing their program and participants on cultivating this values.

My kids and niece attend a YMCA day camp this summer. Every day, there is a “bead ceremony” where the counselors stand up in front of all the campers and publicly recognize a few who exemplified one of the values, and the camper receives a colored bead (each value has its own color—see below for the list).

Now imagine how a 6-year-old feels when they receive a green bead for showing responsibility today. They feel proud, tell their mom, and do more of the recognized behaviors (pick up toys, stay with their buddy on the field trip) the next day. And then the other campers learn, “hey, if I pick up my toys, maybe I will get a bead, too!” And the culture is built one kid and one day at a time.

What about the black bead?

Last week I picked up my son and he runs over to proudly give me this handmade card (see photo below.)

It reads “to earn the black bead, a camper must display an extreme amount of courage and bravery. Plus they must have a spectacular day. Today, Lindy expresses these qualities while going to battle that he would later to be found as the victor. He battled a bee that was terrorizing the camper lunch.  Not giving any thought to his own well-being, he shooed the bee away and saved the lunch. He is forever a hero” AND there was a small dinosaur toy taped to the card.

The story continues that the one and only black bead for the summer has been sitting in the bead jar waiting for just such a brave and courageous camper.

All I can say is “WOW!”

Yes, I am proud that my son was recognized for his heroism but I am also blown away by the creativity of counselor Dominic who took the effort to make up such an award.

Can you imagine the impact if your office had a “bead” ceremony once a month? And what if someone came up with a new (creative, silly) “award” once in a while? Would everyone be tripping over themselves to get those bead by doing the 4 things your organization needs? Just because we are adults, we LIKE recognition too!

Ready to get started, for some ideas, read my blog article “Quick recognition template

black bead

4 Core Values of YMCA:

  • Caring (Red): to demonstrate a sincere concern for others, for their needs and well-being. Related values: compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and kindness.
  • Honesty (Blue): to tell the truth, to demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness through actions that are in keeping with my stated positions and beliefs. Related values: integrity and fairness.
  • Respect (Yellow): to treat others as I would want them to treat me, to value the worth of every person, including myself. Related values: acceptance, empathy, self-respect and tolerance.
  • Responsibility (Green): to do what is right–what I ought to do, to be accountable for my choices of behavior and actions and my promises. Related values: commitment, courage, good health, service and citizenship.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Total Rewards #3- The Work Itself (Whistle on your way to work)

Total Rewards #3- The Work Itself (Whistle on your way to work)

My maternal grandfather often told the advice of his father (a second generation business owner of a lumberyard on the banks of the Erie Canal): “you should have a job where you whistle on your way to work and whistle on your way home.” (I believe this was even before the dwarves in Snow White sang something similar).

The type of work we do and how it makes us “feel” is an important reward for employees, and one that greatly impacts engagement with your job.

There are several elements that impact our perceptions of our work and a sense of satisfaction (which impacts engagement):

  • Achievement: A sense of achievement is the #1 factor for positive job attitude. Do I feel that I have accomplished something at the end of a week?
  • Meaning or Purpose: Does the work I do make a difference to the organization or to others? (See story below).
  • Challenge: Does this job use my talents and abilities, are my assignments challenging without being overwhelming?
  • Variety: Is there enough variety of the work to keep me from being bored? (People have different standards for what is too repetitive or monotonous so a job fit match is critical here).
  • Minimal frustration: Several “hassles” are key factors that impact retention. Employees expect the necessary tools and resources to do their job and a reliable workgroup, or they find a new job with fewer constraints on their achievement.

What can you do to add to the sense of achievement and purpose for your staff and co-workers, and to minimize their frustration? 

Story of Purpose (3 laborers):

There once was a traveler who journeyed all over the globe in search of wisdom and enlightenment. In the midst of one village, he came upon three laborers.

He approached the nearest laborer and asked, “Excuse me; may I ask what’s going on here?” The first laborer replied, “Can’t you see? I’m busting rocks. It’s unpleasant dirty work but it’s a job.”

The traveler approached a second laborer and asked the same question. The second laborer replied, “Can’t you see? I’m earning a living to support my family.”

The traveler then approached a third laborer and posed the question a third time. With a broad smile and a gleam in his eye, the third laborer replied with great pride: “Can’t you see? We’re building a cathedral.”

Clearly the last laborer was engaged in his work. It became meaningful to him because he had a larger purpose – the cathedral.

PS Grandpa decided that he would not be whistling on his way to the family lumberyard, so he became a pioneering heart and lung surgeon. He passed this advice down to his eight children, six who became business owners like their grandfather.

Image courtesy of Robert Cochrane at FreeDigitalPhotos.net