You own and operate a business, or you’re an upper level executive or manager. You and the company have set guidelines, created detailed forms, extensive tests, and processes to weed out only the best candidates and hire only the best talent to join your team.
What’s their education like? They’re job experience? Their long term vision? Their goals?
Your potential candidates lay it out for you and everything they have to offer the company. They have great education, experience, references… they’re a star, they fit the bill perfectly, and you hire them.
They start out doing incredible work, there’s fire in their eyes and they’re ready to prove themselves.
At least for a while.
The months or the years go by and suddenly one day, you realize the star employee you hired is just another body collecting a paycheck. What the hell happened? They come in, do their work as needed, never going above and beyond. The fire in their eyes is only remotely visible on Friday evening as they’re punching out for the weekend. Ready to drown themselves with pizza and beer in an attempt to escape their reality.
You’re pissed. They’re not living up to their promises to you and the company. You might feel cheated or even lied to. They’re no longer providing the value you’d like to see and maybe even making you look bad because you’re the one who decided to hire them. They’re failing you and the company.
Or are they?
What if all along, you and the company have been failing them?
“Yeah right!?” You might say, “We’ve provided them with a steady paycheck, a 401K, and stock options!”
That’s great, but what have you done to provide your employees with something more? What might that be? How about, the feeling of being truly valued.
Here’s another question: how can we expect value from someone who doesn’t feel valued?
The answer: we can’t.
It’s not your employee’s fault that they don’t care about your company anymore, it’s yours.
Ouch. This probably wasn’t an answer you were expecting to hear. Sorry, not sorry. It’s wake-up time baby.
It’s up to the employee to provide value right? Right. But it’s also the responsibility of an employer.
Let’s break this down.
How many times has that employee come to you with an idea, with a bit of insight, or something they see as possibly being valuable to the company?
How many times have you given that employee the chance to advance in the company? Have you given them the reins on a project they thought might provide additional value? Have you even stopped to listen to them? Asked them how their family is? Taken the time to ensure them that all the hours they spend each week working for the companies benefit are appreciated?
See, employers are expecting people to spend the majority of their lives working for them, missing time with family, postponing trips, staying late to work overtime on a project. Companies are expecting employees to go above and beyond and to provide continuous and ever increasing value. Yet, the same company totally disregards any responsibility or holds to any standard in what they expect of themselves and what they offer their employees.
What might a short list of those responsibilities look like?
- Truly listen to your employees: Listen to what they say in those meetings, in passing, and to each other. Someone that feels listened to, is someone that feels valued. Take to heart their concerns, input, and ideas. Be a resource for them and give them the ability to take action themselves.
- Take responsibility: Take responsibility in the fact that being an employer is not a one sided relationship. The take a mile and give an inch model doesn’t work and it never will. Give as much as you expect. Inspire your employees and offer them the tools to succeed at your company.
- Do fun shit: Take your employees rafting, rent out a camp ground for them and their families, rent out a movie theater, do a quarterly party/dinner, just do something. Something that preferably has nothing to do with work and build real relationships with your team.
- Don’t be afraid to let employees move on: Our lives are constantly changing, that star employee is no different. If you see one of your star employees falling off the wagon, help them. Sit down with them, discuss their goals, reevaluate what’s important to them. Who knows, maybe even help them create a new position within the company so they can feel valued once again. Or if that’s not an option for them, encourage them to look for other work, let them know of places hiring you think they’d be a good fit for, and offer to be a reference. If worst comes to worst, you two remain friends and they find a job with a different company. At the end of the day, employer or employee, we’re here to help each other.
This is a short list, but hopefully it’s opened the floodgates and has given you some ideas to start with.
See those people out and about with their families on the weekend, with their friends, at the gym, and so on, rocking their companies swag? Those are employees who feel valued, who feel a part of the team. They gladly represent the company they work with, and they stand behind it. Those could be your employees out there. The choice is yours.
If providing as much value to your employees as they provide to you is something you don’t want to do, by all means, continue enjoying high employee turnover rates and mediocre employee performance.