By Matthew L. Rzepka
September 17, 2009
Marriage - a union of two people who make a commitment to love, honor and cherish one another. This is the traditional way of thinking about marriage. However, in business, it can be used as an analogy for the professional relationship that exists between an employer and employee. Instead of just hiring a new employee, assume as Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) that you are creating a lasting bond with this person, where each partner strives to always give 100 percent to the relationship.
How could adapting your thinking help create a positive, supportive and engaged working environment? In a marriage, you have to work to keep both parties healthy, happy and able in order to achieve each other’s goals individually and as a whole. As an employer, the same rules apply - you and your employees must have needs met to sustain a successful business.
Especially in a professional service-based business, where the service experience cannot be separated from the service provider, it is imperative that employees achieve and maintain a high level of job satisfaction to provide the best client service experience. A valuable CHCO understands that an organization’s employees want to be heard, appreciated, and thanked. Consider creating avenues that allow for your talent to express their thoughts on the following:
-¢ How the business is operating and what ideas they have to improve current systems.
-¢ What their accomplishments are within the business and subsequently how they can be
acknowledged and rewarded for it.
-¢ What dreams they have for the future, both personally and professional.
-¢ What their preferences are personally, so rewards can be customized accordingly.
A starting point for addressing such items can be found in an organization’s strategic planning sessions, evaluations and annual retreats. Also, create a formal Brag System within the company. Add a dream management section to performance appraisal or individual coaching and mentoring sessions. Conduct a Preferences Survey so rewards are tailored and valued. Allow all the opportunity to participate, include team members from every level of the organization.
Gathering and analyzing this information and putting it into action within your business enables your employees to feel they are contributing to more than just their job. They have a sense of power to shape their career into what they want for themselves, resulting in enhanced productivity, job satisfaction and workforce engagement.
All worthwhile relationships require effort. A successful CHCO understands that with a little creativity, quality time with all team members can be had, which is essential to building upon an employee’s level of engagement. Designate time to:
-¢ Present a lunch-and-learn session on a topic new to your industry.
-¢ Conduct a professional development training on ways to improve internal processes.
-¢ Offer one-on-one or external trainings on new technologies.
-¢ Schedule an offsite retreat to get all employees involved in organizational planning.
Finally, instill a “grow or go” mentality in the workplace. Encourage your employees to develop technically and professionally. Once their strengths are recognized they will achieve maximally by working in those areas that best align with their abilities. Supporting educational growth of your team members will solidify the relationship with you, the employer, and subsequently the firm.
Employees seldom leave a job because of the firm. They leave because of a person. Therefore, make the reverse logic true. Form a meaningful relationship with your team members by doing the following:
-¢ Take time to get to know your employees as individuals.
-¢ Provide them with tools they feel can assist them in doing their jobs better.
-¢ Listen to an idea that they may have to improve a process.
-¢ Challenge them to go above and beyond.
If your recruiting, screening, and hiring processes are effective, your employees want to be more than wallflowers, waiting for someone to call on them. They want to be a reliable, dedicated part of the organization. Trust your team members to be put in the spotlight. Give them the attention that they need and crave from you. Great organizations realize what is good for its team members also benefits the organization.
As CHCO, take a lesson from your director of marketing and understand the Value Formula: V = B – C; value is equal to benefits minus costs. The formula fluctuates per individual as the equation’s right side is made of variables, not constants. Therefore, get feedback on your efforts to create an engaged workforce. Administer third-party satisfaction interviews as your barometer of progress - and do something with the results - celebrating successes and making changes in areas for improvement.
Basic needs in a marriage are to feel appreciated, supported and connected. These needs are the same of a professional, working relationship. Both parties are looking for that unique fit that will help satisfy those basic needs. Unfortunately, it’s the employer who often rushes into the situation, leaving both parties back at square one. Too many “marriages” end in divorce. Take time to care and recruit only the best for your company and continue to build on the strengths they offer by meeting them halfway. Be good to your work partner and they will be good to you-¦’til retirement do you part.
Matthew L. Rzepka, CPA, CFP, is co-founder of Valley Oak Financial, PLC, a certified public accounting and financial planning firm in Kalamazoo. He specializes in tax and financial planning and prides himself on the creation of a unique blend of highly engaged team members. Valley Oak Financial was named one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in 2009 and was selected as an elite winner in the Recognition and Retention category. Matthew can be reached at [email protected].