How can I create the most successful company possible, while also making it the best company to work for? For many managers, it can seem difficult to integrate the two.
Recent surveys show that as much as 51% of the workforce feels disengaged at work, and 17.5% even claim to feel “actively disengaged” at work. With this data in mind, many managers are left grasping at straws to satisfy a largely dissatisfied workforce.
As Trust Index Employee surveys demonstrate yearly, the most attractive companies for workers also tend to be some of the most successful companies in the world.
“But, of course! They can afford to be great companies to work for!” You may cry.
The truth is that these companies have simply demonstrated an excellence in a few key human areas. (Notice I said “human” and not “high salaries.”) Their commitment to nurturing their human element is what drove them to financial success—not the other way around.
Consider the following humanizing factors that many of the world’s most successful companies are known for within their workforce and management structures:
Managers Who Are Mentors
A 2015 study by Gallup revealed that half of the 7200 employees surveyed have left a job to get away from a bad manager. What did they reveal makes a bad manager? One who is closed off and non-communicative.
Workers surveyed said they wanted to feel that they could approach their boss to discuss almost anything; professional or personal. Those who felt like they could do this experienced the highest success rate for work engagement and satisfaction.
A good manager should be happy to subvert the traditional hierarchy of older generations by sitting at the bottom of the pyramid rather than at the top. Instead of calling out orders and keeping employees down, managers should be content to train subordinate employees and build them to better contribute to the company as a whole.
Millennials have consistently rated training and development as their most valued work benefit. They want to learn, and they are eager to be taken under the wing of managers and more experienced colleagues. The significance of managers who can mentor and develop an employee’s potential cannot be overstated.
Remember: Employees rarely quit jobs; they mostly quit bosses.
Think back to elementary school, in classes where you always felt pressured to have the right answers, did you ever actually figure out what those were?
In a truly sensational company, you are allowed to be wrong. You feel free to be yourself without censorship. You are allowed to admit that you don’t know; that you need help; that you made a mistake.
Think of all the great inventors of our time, would the light bulb or the iPad have been invented if their inventors had not been allowed to fail? Failure is not only psychologically healthy for workers; it is also absolutely necessary for successful innovation.
As a manager, you set the tone within your ranks. Managers who display vulnerability will not only experience improved trusting relationships with their employees, but will also experience better work from them. Companies that thrive on cultures of fear and control, on the other hand, eliminate opportunities for vulnerability and stifle innovation.
“I don’t know” may be the most powerful phrase in your arsenal. Use it, and give your team the permission to do the same—then innovate together to find answers.
Leading With Transparency
According to a 2014 survey of 1,562 workers by the American Psychological Association, a full quarter of employees don’t trust their employer.
Think back on the powerful authority figures in your life; whether they be parents, teachers, babysitters, or coaches. Who did you trust and respect most? Those who told you something straight?
As the folks over at Buffer point out, transparency breeds trust. It breeds respect. It breeds authenticity. It also keeps you more open to better and more varied feedback, which improves innovation.
A recent social experiment tested the effects of transparency when they made a group of chefs physically face the customers that they were cooking for while cooking. The food tasted better when the customers could see it being made.
This speaks volumes about the effects of sharing personal information and making sensitive records public knowledge. It’s scary to take that first step, but once you do, you won’t regret the lasting benefits it has for your team.
If you’re doubting you need your employees to trust you, revert back to point number one: employees don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses.
Building Employee Experience is a Priority
The old model existed under the assumption that people needed they job they had. But that model was based under assumptions about stability that don’t apply to the current economy and job culture. This is especially true as millennials (those born between 1977 – 1997) become the biggest part of the workforce, with 91% of them saying they don’t expect to stay in a job for longer than three years.
This new reality is the foundation EX(JM), Employee Experience (Journey Mapping). EX is defined as “The sum of all experiences an employee has with an employer, over the duration of their relationship with that employer.” Companies who realize that most of today’s workforce often values workplace flexibility and training and development over salary and benefits will step up their game accordingly.
In a sensational company, building positive EX is the utmost priority. Sometimes a little effort is all it takes; by simply seeking to build the best EX possible, you are adopting an attitude that creates a truly sensational company.
When an employee is doing a job they love, they will feel like their workplace is a laboratory for their passions. Not only does this create a sense of play and a drive for questions rather than answers—which leads to increased productivity and innovation—it also creates the ability for employees to truly go the distance and test the boundaries of their focus.
However, what do all laboratories require? That’s right. The proper tools and equipment.
As a manager, you want to remove obstacles rather than create them for workers. This often comes back to the kinds of resources and technology that exist at your employees’ fingertips.
Certainly, the right technology alone can’t create a spectacular EX (that’s Employee Experience!) But it can support it and reinforce it. You can be the most amazing manager in the world, but if your employees don’t have the right tools and resources with which to deliver their work, what does it matter?
After all, a craftsman is nothing without his tools.
Focus on Creating Engagement
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you cannot create happiness for your workers, but you can create engagement. This means building a holistic working experience that is infused with the human elements of mentorship, transparency, and vulnerability.
Giving your team members the right resources to be successful at whatever they do will not only allow them to successfully complete their jobs, but will also make them feel more confident and cared for—leading to the longer term loyalty required to build a truly sensational company.