When Spring Cleaning Goes Wrong
Are You Inadvertently “Throwing Out” Good Employees?
Ah, spring … when our thoughts turn to renewal, to change, to the clearing out of old, useless clutter — be it physical objects or mental habits. Clean is good; and emptier spaces, whether in the office or in our heads, give us room to stretch and grow.
But while you’re busy dumping dusty file folders into recycling bins or adding a 10-minute meditation break to your morning routine, make sure you’re not inadvertently throwing out something else: good employees. Yes, even the most well-intentioned leaders could be mistakenly pushing productive workers out the door by either doing certain things wrong or neglecting to do others at all.
Warm bodies abound: Finding the right fit
Now hold on, you might say, the economy remains in slow recovery mode. If we do unintentionally lose a few, we can get them right back. There’s still a line of able-skilled applicants around the block, right?
Not necessarily. A Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey of 601 small business owners conducted in January of this year found that 53% of respondents had difficulty finding the right employees — and 24% stated that this challenge had hurt their businesses.
So, while you may be able to find the proverbial “warm bodies,” you could have a tough time replacing employees who:
- Specialize in the skill sets you need,
- Know the ins and outs of your company already, and
- Mesh well with your existing culture and workforce.
Let’s be honest: The best and brightest workers are always hard to replace and could leave for greener pastures at any time — regardless of where the economy stands.
Promises made and broken: Managing change
Change is difficult for employees — whether it comes from a mere “spring cleaning” effort to boost productivity or something as monumental as a merger or acquisition. Of course, that’s not to suggest that change is bad. Every organization must evolve with the times and maintain the flexibility it needs to compete.
No, where change becomes a problem is when it’s inconsistently executed and poorly communicated. Good employees may start to vanish when they believe inexplicable priority shifts are taking place that seem to come out of the blue and never produce results.
For example, a huge push into social media is announced with significant demands on everyone’s time. Yet, three months later, the company’s Facebook page lies dormant and there’s been little indication of any return on investment. Six months later, the organization announces a shift back toward traditional marketing with no mention of the previous initiative. The result: Workers feel “jerked around.”
The greater issue in play here isn’t only shifting priorities; it’s a failure to honor commitments. Many organizations don’t realize that, when they undertake a policy change or shift in direction, they’ve made an implicit promise to employees to follow through on the effort and keep staff in the loop. And just as employees must be held accountable for their work, leadership must stay accountable to their workers.
Make sure you’re not making promises — implicit or otherwise — that you can’t keep. Otherwise, even a vague sense of betrayal may send productive workers heading for the door.
3 primary to-dos: Keeping your house in order
On the other hand, you might be doing nothing wrong at all. It’s what you’re not doing that could be sending key employees across town to your competitor or headlong into a career change.
Again, if you’re making some refreshing spring changes right now to your personal work habits or the organization as a whole, make sure you’re not overlooking your staff while doing so. Generally, leaders who succeed at nurturing and retaining quality staff keep three primary things on their to-do lists:
1. Challenge. On a regular basis, you need to be giving employees chances to stretch their skills into new areas and greater accomplishments. An annual or semiannual goal-setting process is an ideal way to set this up. But keep your eyes open for “goals of opportunity” that pop up over the course of the year. At the end of the day, boredom is a valid reason to leave a job — and you could lose a good worker because of it.
2. Develop. Providing (or at least offering) ongoing training and professional education isn’t the same as challenging workers. This is simply fundamental. Skill sets need to adapt to industry changes and new technology. A worker who doesn’t feel developmentally supported by an employer may move on to another company that will do a better job in this area.
3. Recognize. It can be easy to unconsciously take a great employee for granted — especially if you’re undertaking strategic changes or tweaks to your own work habits. Don’t let it happen, as feeling ignored can only compound other silent dissatisfactions under which the staffer may be laboring. Lack of recognition, unless it’s particularly extreme, may not drive an employee out the door. But it can be the last straw.
New day rising
Is it a new day for you or your organization as a whole? If so, great! Rejuvenation is a beautiful thing. Just make sure your best workers continue to feel engaged and rewarded in every sense — including financially, intellectually and emotionally.
For help targeting the right spring changes this year and keeping your best and brightest employees engaged, please contact us! We believe every organization can be GREAT and offer a wide range of services to enable you to achieve and maintain a high level of success.
Spark Your Team on Staff Appreciation Day This Year
Have you ever stopped to think about what “spring” means? As a verb, the word means “to move or jump suddenly upward or forward.” As a season, it means warmer weather and a great time to clean out the office. But instead of just doing some tidying up this year, Performance Dimensions Group challenges you to move your company upward and forward.
How? Spring into action and spark your team! Show them how much you appreciate their efforts and time. Employee recognition is one of the most powerful tools you can use to motivate — and it can cost very little to nothing. The official Staff Appreciation Day is always the last Wednesday in April, so here are a few suggestions on how you can recognize your team right now:
- Write a personal thank-you note (or at least send an e-mail).
- Give employees a longer lunch break for the day.
- Create weekly or monthly awards to recognize those whose actions go unnoticed.
- Acknowledge specific staff members in status reports.
- Support “flex-friendly” schedules.
- Give note cards to every team and have members write positive messages to each other.
- Pay every employee a personal visit and practice nonverbal positive behavior cues, such as smiling.
- Celebrate birthdays in new and imaginative ways.
- Produce your own virtual recognition awards using e-mail blasts or e-cards.
- Bake a cake, cupcakes, cookies, pie, gluten-free muffins … well, you get the idea — everyone loves food!
- Please top performers with a prime parking spot.
- Find out each employee’s hobby and buy an appropriate gift.
- Distribute restaurant gift cards.
- Give the gift of wellness: Offer up a spa day.
- Provide weekly team breakfasts.
- Have $5 coffee cards ready to give away.
- Inscribe your favorite book with a thank-you note and give it to a team member who you know will enjoy it.
- Hold a surprise pizza party.
- Hand out cards with movie tickets.
- Set up barbeques in the parking lot and have a cookout.
- Enhance employees’ vacation time by giving them $100 before they leave.
These are just a few examples of what you can do in your workplace to reward and recognize your employees so they feel valued and avoid job burnout. Choose the ones that work for your organization’s culture or be creative and invent your own.
If you take the latter route, please let us know what you come up with! We’d love to hear from you, and you could win our “Best Recognition of Your Employees” prize for 2013! We’ll post the winning entry on our website — with attribution, of course. And the winner will receive four “coffee cards” for energizing you and your staff!
LEAD, GROW, INSPIRE: Rousing Quotes To Get Your Staff Rolling
At Performance Dimensions Group, we live by our core values of LEAD, GROW, INSPIRE. And what better time than spring to receive — and give — a bit of inspiration?
Among the best ways to get inspired is to read stories about success and successful people. For example, take Seattle native Bill Gates. He began to show an interest in computer programming at the age of 13. Through his technological innovation and sharp business strategies, he and partner Paul Allen built the world’s largest software company: Microsoft.
As leaders, we look to books, life stories and inspiring quotes of successful entrepreneurs and others to elevate our ability to guide our organizations and employees toward greater success. Your staff might find a spark for their passions and some direction for their personal goals in the words of a famous person, too. Here are a few such quotes to consider:
- “If you show people the problems, and you show people the solutions, they will be moved to act.” ∼ Bill Gates
- “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ∼ George Patton
- “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ∼ Jack Welch
- “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” ∼ John Maxwell
- “A man watches his pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe fruit at length falls into his lap.” ∼ Abraham Lincoln
- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” ∼ Mark Twain
- “Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are.” ∼ Theodore Roosevelt
- “Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” ∼ Dwight D. Eisenhower
- “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ∼ John Quincy Adams
And, for reasons that will soon become obvious, here’s our favorite:
- “LEAD with heart and authenticity; GROW a little every day; INSPIRE the best in yourself and others.” ∼ Lynda Silsbee, Performance Dimensions Group
Leaders must inspire others and help them along their respective paths to greatness. When a leader’s message is strong and clear, employers can become partners in their organization’s progress and believers in themselves. Everyone feels energized and ready for success.
Never underestimate the power of words and what they can do for your organization. And thanks for reading our words. You INSPIRE us to LEAD and GROW every day of the year!