Some folks just aren’t satisfied with a job. They want more! They want work that is satisfying and rewarding.
As an employer, you want faithful people; a worker you can count on. You want employees who get up in the morning excited about their job. You envision them showing up a few minutes before start time, ready and willing to engage.
The reality of the employer-employee relationship is more positive than it is negative. God made people with the desire to be productive. Many folks want to work and desire to do a good job. But they get bored or they feel undervalued so they under-perform and eventually go elsewhere in search for the right fit.
Many employers are good people. They want to create a positive environment and pay people well but the unmotivated and self-entitled employee has burned them. So now they’re guarded with their emotions, information, and money.
Is there an answer? I think so but it starts with leadership. Leaders solve problems because they take ownership.
It all starts with how the employer deals with the past. Experience shapes our view of the future. We either learn from it and chart a better course or we shrink back and think smaller. Small thinking is the disease of burned employers. We start doing more on our own and we adopt an unattractive cynicism.
There is another way. The employer must see their most important customer – the employee. Think about it. You are asking your employees to help you be successful with a lot less benefit than you hope to attain. Is that fair? To some degree it is because you have taken a larger risk, work more hours, etc. So what would it look like if you viewed your employees as your most important customer?
Cultivating Effective and Engaged Employees
Not everybody wants to work for you. But those who do, want to know and experience a few key key things. Though most cannot articulate them, they still exist. I have listed them in the form of questions we must answer for our employees.
Q: How does my job relate to the over-all purpose and vision of the company?
A: A thoughtful answer raises the importance of the job. Here’s a simple illustration: I am often amazed at how poorly some restaurants clean tables. I am convinced this happens because the job is explained as “clean the tables” instead of what the results of a clean table produces: satisfied customers, a clean and healthy environment, repeat business, reputation, and profits!
Q: How do I do my job?
A: In many cases, you may feel this is too vague or simple of a question, but it’s not. It’s a systemic question. If we don’t demonstrate and write down how a particular job is to be done, it leaves too much room for interpretation.
Using the same illustration as before, most of us have learned how to clean tables from home. But some homes are well-cleaned and some are not. Some of us are task-oriented and some lean toward relationships. Ten employees may go about the cleaning of tables in 10 different ways. As the employer, if you decide a job is important, you must figure out how you want it done, regardless of employee personality or background.
In the case of cleaning tables, do you want everything removed from the surface before it is cleaned? What kind of cleaning solution do you want employees to use on the table? Do you want them to clean the salt and pepper shakers? Do you want them to spill the crumbs on the floor or not? Do you want the seats cleaned? Do you want the table and seats dry before making the table available? Do you want the table re-set and if so, how?
When you provide detail and systems you make the job important. When you don’t, it communicates the opposite.
Q: How do I know I’m doing a good job?
A: This is a question of value and appreciation. This question is also one that can reveal anxiety. We help employees engage in their work if they understand the standards to which their performance is measured. In other words, their performance should not be a mystery to them or anyone else. If you cannot define the standards, you leave too much room for interpretation, disagreements, and worse.
But don’t let predetermined standards be the sole source of feedback. Communicate often. The classic book, The One Minute Manager is a great resource to learn how to cultivate a positive and effective work environment.
Q: How long should I work here?
A: This is a question that travels beyond the current assignment. It travels into the realm of the paycheck, benefits, and opportunity within the organization. At the root of this question is the issue of future. Does my employer recognize how my strengths can help the company not just today but in the years ahead? If so, the relationship should becomes mutually beneficial – a budding partnership of sorts.
Not all companies are set-up to provide such a future. Instead they are a stepping- stone and can actually acquire talented short to mid-term employees by featuring this benefit. It’s a win-win situation when an employer can woo and prepare workers for their journey ahead. Knowing this upfront is a useful bridge for both employer and employee. Once again, the employer must posture jobs to acquire the right fit for their team.
Employers will accomplish more when they hold themselves accountable for doing the right things and creating systems that do things right.
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12