by Larry Johnson
In the July and September issues of this e-zine, I discussed four of the twelve employee perceptions that have a proven positive impact on profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, and employee turnover. (Source: First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman.) If you’d like to read those articles, below is the link to the page on my website where you can download them. The titles to look for are “Do I Look Like I Care?” and “Managing Productivity, Etc.”
In this issue, I’ll continue that discussion by expanding on four more of these oh-so important employee perceptions that Coffman & Buckingham found to have such a powerful effect on employee and team performance.
Perception #10. I have a best friend at work. Human beings are tribal. They seek out the companionship of others. When the workplace also meets the social needs of its employees, they tend to stay longer and work harder.
Question: Given that this is true, how are you encouraging your employees to connect with each other socially?
Perception #9. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work.
People are inclined to be more productive and stay longer when they feel like they are on a winning team – a team where the players care about doing a good job. I’m reminded of my friend Mary Love (about whom I’ve written in previous issues of Tips For Today’s Managers) who reduced the turnover rate at the nursing home she ran from 250% per year to 17% by celebrating her top performers, encouraging her middle performers, and firing her losers. She did this despite the fact she was running short-staffed. Her philosophy: Eagles like to fly with eagles, not turkeys. My job is to make sure there are only eagles on the team.
Question: Are you keeping your turkeys at the risk of losing your eagles?
Perception #8. The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
Marketing expert Thom Winninger tells this story: Early in his career, Thom helped McDonald’s with its marketing efforts. After spending time watching carloads of families drive up to the window to pick up their orders, he had an epiphany. The cars were usually full of screaming children in the back seat and frazzled parents in the front who just wanted to get their kids fed and go home. It dawned on Thom that McDonald’s was not in the fast-food business -McDonald’s was in the “parent hassle-relief business.” In other words, “the ‘Happy Meal’ business.” Playground equipment at the restaurants was not far behind.
Question: What are you doing to make sure your employees understand the real mission of your business?
Perception #7. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
While delivering a speech in upstate New York some years ago, I bragged about one of my favorite retailers, Nordstrom Department Stores. At the break, one of the audience members approached me and said, “If you think Nordstrom is so great, you ought to check out Wegmans.”
“What’s a Wegmans?” I asked.
“A local grocery store chain that is second to none in service and quality,” he replied. (Actually, Wegmans operates stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. This year, Wegmans celebrated 10 years of being on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”)
Then he offered to take me on a tour of one of the stores. We drove to a local Wegmans where he guided me through the aisles, enthusiastically commenting on the incredible selection of vegetables, meats, and bakery goods, as well as the fantastic customer-friendly attitude of the employees.
And he was right. The place was far beyond any supermarket I’d ever seen. But more impressive was his enthusiasm, so I asked him, “Do work for Wegmans?” He replied, “No, but my college-age son does, and they treat him as well as they treat their customers.” He went on to tell me that Wegmans pays their employees a competitive wage AND benefits AND offers a scholarship program that reimburses college tuition, books and lab fees.
I later learned that since the scholarship program presented its first awards in 1984, Wegmans has assisted more than 20,000 employees, awarding more than $63 million in scholarships.
Yikes, you might say. That’s a huge investment in people who are working at a grocery store while they go to college. After all, when finished with school, they will probably quit and move on to a real job. True, but think of the benefits for Wegmans:
- Every college student within a 50-mile radius wants to work there, so when Wegmans hires, it can pick from the cream of the crop.
- The people they hire love their jobs, so they are motivated to really go out of their way for customers.
- Some of these folks stay on to become full-timers and, eventually, store managers.
- After those who leave go, they’re likely to become customers themselves – fiercely loyal customers. So loyal that when they go to a seminar given by some guy from out of town, they offer to take him on a tour of “their” Wegmans as if the store belonged to them.
You may not think those benefits are worth a $63-million investment, but Wegmans does, and they seem to be doing alright.
Question: What are you doing to develop your employees? Have you considered all the benefits when you do your cost-benefit analysis of the investment?
In next month’s issue of “Tips For Today’s Managers,” I’ll comment on the remaining four employee perceptions from Coffman & Buckingham’s study, and offer some suggestions for putting them to work in your own management practice.
Larry Johnson: Speaker & Co-author of Absolute Honesty: Building A Corporate Culture That Values Straight Talk And Rewards Integrity Tel: 800-836-6599 Web:
http://www.larry-johnson.com E-mail: [email protected]