By Rachel Shaw Callahan
March 19, 2009
Best practices begin with the best people. This starts with defining the desired environment and the competencies needed to accomplish that culture. These core competencies must be imbedded in the hiring process so the organization is only comprised of talent who are engaged in the desired culture.
At the root of our culture at Leaders Bank is the belief that all employees are treated and treat each other as Leaders. Our atmosphere is professional and fun with a core value of respect in every interaction. Our executive team models the principals of the organization’s culture in their leadership qualities, thus motivating employees to strive for similar behaviors and actions.
In order to thrive, we must emphasize culture fit in our hiring practices. Fit is not a learned behavior, so recruitment practices must screen specifically for alignment with the culture. Once hired, the orientation process becomes the vehicle for communicating expectations for the desired culture. Ongoing training further propels employee alignment. Interactive training courses such as Respectful Leaders and Leaders Service guide employees toward the desired behaviors by providing an understanding of why these behaviors are integral to our successful culture and organization.
Once engaged, management and coaching training enables employees to further cultivate appropriate leadership techniques and creates an avenue for them to mentor their teams. Based on a needs assessment of our current employee demographics, our latest training was designed to focus on the different motivations of a multigenerational workforce. This training enables our managers to carefully tailor their communication and approach to the uniqueness of their employees.
Communicating everything, both in good times and bad, affords the relief of any perceived barriers. Even in uncertain times, honesty is the best policy when it comes to employees in a small company. They need to trust and believe in the leadership and their messages.
Semi-annual satisfaction surveys invite employee feedback for close examination. An offsite retreat enables all employees to have an opportunity to discuss the results in depth. Action plans are then developed to propel strengths and mitigate vulnerabilities.
To solidify best practices, we incorporate employee-centered perquisites and benefits into the culture. For example, our Wellness Program is proactive in optimizing employee health. Employees earn wellness points for a full spectrum of health related activities and subsequently cash out those points for dollar equivalents.
Sustaining best practices depends on the full engagement of all employees. Hire the best, continuously train, communicate with clarity and frequency, encourage and reward in a customized way, and listen carefully so the workplace continuously reflects a positive culture. These best practices engage, develop, and support the people who make your organization a best place to work!
Rachel Shaw Callahan is vice president of human resources at Leaders Bank in Oakbrook Ill., a 2008 winner of Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. She can be reached at [email protected].