I've been reading "The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It and Why It Matters," by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin of the Great Places To Work Institute. Some of our clients are great places to work and some are working to become a great place to work.
If your organization is neither of these, I would suggest you're falling behind. The authors of the book write the following: "We know that the employee experience is central to understanding how to create a great workplace. It is the employee that determines whether his or her work environment is great."
Employees are sending a clear message to employers, particularly their leaders, that the place they drive to every day is not that great. Consider the following, reported by Human Resources Employee Engagement Statistics (2011):
- 46 percent of new hires leave their jobs within the first year.
- 63 percent of employees who do not feel treated with respect plan to leave their job within two years.
- 24 percent of employees say they don't see their managers enough.
Further, consider 2011 statistics revealed by the Gallup organization:
- 72 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged in their work.
- Only 11 percent of the aforementioned disengaged workers feel happy at work.
Burchell and Robin have much to say about what makes a great workplace. Simply put, this is not about what you do, it's about how you do it. The broad elements shared in the book that contribute to a great workplace include:
- Credibility: I believe in my leaders.
- Respect: I am a valued member of this organization.
- Fairness: Everyone plays by the same rules.
- Pride: I contribute to something really meaningful.
- Camaraderie: The people here are great.
In support of all of these things, one of the things we encourage leaders to do is create a great start for their employees. Prepare to have an expectations conversation with each employee. To prepare for this, create what we call an Expectations One Pager. Write down what you expect of your team. You might have four categories:
- General: I expect that everyone on my team will be a high performer, will demonstrate the values of the organization, will put safety first…
- Performance: Complete work on time and accurately, provide others with what they need…
- Behavior: Treat others respectfully at all times, even when opinions differ…
- Punctuality: Be where you say you'll be when you say you'll be there…
Your conversation might look something like this:
- Step One: Share your appreciation and enthusiasm that they are on your team. "I'm so glad to have you as part of the team."
- Step Two: Share your expectations. "I want to make sure you are very clear about what I expect of everyone on this team. These are the things I am paying attention to. When you're on track, I'm going to tell you, and when you're off track, I'm going to tell you. This is my commitment to you." As you go through your written expectations, make very clear that your intention is to help them and everyone on the team be the best they can be. This is about ensuring that everyone gets to be part of something great.
- Step Three: Ask them for their reaction, their questions. "In general, what is your reaction? What questions do you have? Can you do these things?"
- Step Four: Turn the tables. "Since this is a two-way street, can you share with me what you expect as a member of this team and of me as your leader?"
- Step Five: Respond by sharing what you know you can commit to and what you may not be able to commit to. For example, "I will make a commitment to providing feedback, and I may forewarn you that I may not provide feedback as frequently as you would like. So, let's keep the lines of communication open about this. We may find that the frequency of feedback becomes a compromise."
Upon conclusion of this conversation, do you think your employee will have a sense that you have credibility as a leader? Will they feel respected by you? Will they likely feel that you are a fair leader? Will they feel a sense of pride that they will get to be part of something great? Will they have a sense of camaraderie coming out of the gates?
One of your responsibilities as a leader includes doing your part to ensure employees leave at the end of the day thinking… "What a great place to work."