In a post last week I brought up a recent conversation I had with a modern employee that got me thinking about the dilemma facing a lot of companies out there when it comes to their corporate culture. I know that it can be a struggle to find ways to engage and empower your team so to help, I’ve come up with some ways for employers to build an atmosphere that leads to the best possible culture for their team. Hopefully these lessons are universal enough to help, whether you’re in my industry (Electrical Construction) or you run a sales team for an insurance company!
Listen and Collect Feedback
How many times have you performed an exit interview with an employee on their last day, only to learn that they had concerns and your company never heard them out? We see the value of listening when it comes to our personal relationships, conversations with customers, and even striking a balance with our children. It’s easy to overlook just how important listening is in the employer to employee relationship, though.
When it comes to empowering your team, it has to start during their active employment – not when they are on their way out. If you’re in an HR or management position, keep your door open and let the team know that they’re always welcome to come and talk to you (confidentially, of course) about their concerns. In some situations an employee may want to remain anonymous so, you’re going to need to introduce technology to cover their needs.
The Data Portion
One benefit of using technology in your listening approach is the amount of actionable data you’re going to have access to. The key is to only utilize tools that line up with your vision of an ideal corporate culture environment. Also, it’s important to remember that this has to be an ongoing activity and can’t just be done on the fly. To get yourself into the habit, turn this activity into a recurring calendar event.
One app that I’ve used in the past to collect feedback from my team is Survey Monkey. Being that it’s highly customizable, you can create surveys that help you track everything from employee engagement, to team morale. They even offer templates for some of the more common employee surveys. Also, it helps you to keep things confidential and anonymous which is critical if you’re going to be able to collect accurate data. Google Sheets has a great polling feature too. Definitely worth checking out for those ad-hoc situations.
The Human Element
Data is only useful for decision making if you understand the human interactions behind the numbers you’re looking at. On this point in particular, you need to make sure that employee recognition is a foundational aspect of your ongoing culture improvements. Here’s one tip that seems to be a winner – publicly recognize an employee when they demonstrate that above and beyond attitude.
Also, consider awarding some perks and incentives for these individuals. For example, if you cater lunch for your staff on occasion, give that great employee the option to choose the restaurant.
Public recognition can focus on the day to day wins too, don’t just sit around waiting for the end of the month to get here!
Keep Things Genuine
Continuing on the human element, it’s really important to keep your office interactions as genuine as possible. For anyone that has seen the movie Office Space, think of the soul crushing cake day scene. Whether your team spends most of their time in a traditional office setting, or at a bustling construction site – the idea of a forced corporate event is something you want to avoid like the plague if you’re going to keep things genuine.
A private “checking in” conversation seems to be a big winner for the companies that do it right. The idea is to check in with every employee at least once a month to gauge how things are going for them. You may be tempted to check in only with your super stars, or the staff members that seem to be struggling but you’ve got to fight through that urge and apply your efforts equally across the entire team.
For your high performing staff, these conversations give you the opportunity to provide ongoing recognition and encouragement. You’re also going to collect valuable insights from a trusted source and you can potentially use that information when you’re updating training materials and things of that nature.
If an employee is struggling, these check ins are important because it gives you the opportunity to address their needs in real time. You can provide direction, training, and encouragement at the first sign of trouble which avoids bigger headaches down the road. This leads right into tomorrow’s post where I’ll show you how to replace your annual employee reviews with a quarterly review instead.
I’m also going to give you some pointers on how to use your corporate culture to attract new talent – without having to “pitch” your candidates on how great your company is.