Another great way to get people fired up and improve company culture is to provide some form of on-going training. Solicit a list of recurring problems or issues that many find difficult to deal with or to resolve, and seek out a professional from outside of your company to come in and work with your team. By bringing in fresh creative ideas, motivation, and tested tools they can use to overcome these problems, employees will liven up and become immediately more enthusiastic. Seminars and workshops dealing with the problems which many employees feel are happening only to them can shed light on the fact that the very same problems are happening all over and that they are not alone. A good seminar and workshop program will also promote an inherent conscientious effort to mentor one and other to continue to improve long after the program is over. Many things you may have told them in the past will be cemented in their minds when they hear it from an outsider who knows this industry, and provides solid no-nonsense answers and techniques they can apply in their daily jobs. This will also generate a higher degree of respect for owners and managers, as well as a higher degree of ownership when it comes to problem solving and team work.
Lastly, how does your current company culture relate to rewards and recognition? When was the last time the "big boss" gave someone a pat on the back? I remember being told, "That's what I pay you for!" Yes, that was what I got paid for, but how much more motivated might I have become if the big boss said something like, "Hey Bob, I like the way you think!" Some people still tell me that they hesitate to give "pats" because come review time, that individual will expect a large raise. Nonsense! Experience shows that people thrive when they receive personal recognition for the work they do. Besides, everyone wants a large raise regardless! Nothing helps improve a company's culture more than meaningful recognition and appreciation for a job particularly well done. The same is true when it comes to recognizing an employee who shows up every day, works hard all the time, and handles various tasks with little or no supervision. A simple pat on the back coming from the big boss is worth its weight in gold when it comes to morale and individual motivation. Here are just a couple of things the big boss can say which will cost him nothing, but will garner a tremendous feeling of appreciation and respect from any employee. Make the language your own, but convey these messages when appropriate:
- "I like the way you think."
- "You did a terrific job with that account."
- "Thank you for solving that problem."
- "I sure appreciate how hard you work."
- "It's a real pleasure to have you on our team."
What other things can you think of to show employees how much you appreciate them?
In the end, thriving companies realize that the decision to be a loyal customer arises not from a single isolated experience with your company but from a number of smaller "moments of truth". The way you operate and how your employees act may be the one big advantage you have in differentiating yourself from all of your competitors, and promoting long term growth. Remember that the experience a customer has with your company positive or negative is determined by the contacts they have with your employees, as well as the service you provide. Exemplary service is a performance issue and your employees are the performers. How well does the culture at your company invigorate and renew enthusiasm and creative effort to continuously improve? All your employees are customer relations people. Hire well, train them, and measure their performance. Give them the motivation to constantly improve and empower them to respond. Never forget, things change!