Infographic “How To” Post 7: Valued

This is part 7 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay7You might be wondering how “valued” and “appreciated” are different.  After all, they are both about acknowledging an employees’ contribution.  I would also say they are similar because you need to genuinely appreciate and value your employees to show that you appreciate and value them!

And lastly, when you show appreciation, it can make an employee feel valued. Whew.

To me the big difference is how you measure these two things, and because value is about worth, there is a tangible representation of worth that every employee gets.

Their paycheck.

So going back to post #1, at least part of an employees’ value to the organization will be determined by a set of numbers on a deposit slip.  But, if we allow that to be the only determining factor of value, we are missing a tremendous opportunity to convey to our employees just how valuable they are to us.

The reason that the paycheck can’t be the only measure of value is because we are dealing with people, not a product or commodity.  You can say it costs $3 to build a widget, so the value (before adding profit margin) is $3.  Of course, the “consumer” value for that widget is going to be based on what price a store can charge.  In the employee world, it’s not an apples to apples comparison because people have emotions and feelings which are HUGE factors in determining value.

Going back to ‘worth’ for just a minute, when people say they don’t get paid enough to do something, they often say “it’s not worth it”.  What they are really saying is that it’s not worth their time, their effort, or extending themselves beyond their comfort zones.

When you look up the word worth, it’s about equality.

Worth – equivalent in value to the sum or item specified

The ‘item specified’ in our case could be a task or an extra shift, or heck, if we aren’t doing the rest of the things right on this infographic, it could be their daily job duties.  So we have to be able to equate the value of what they are doing with the value of what they get out of it – which isn’t all about money.

People like and need to get paid, yes.  However, people also have this need to be involved, to be productive, and to know that they are doing something important, otherwise they are just wasting their time.

Have you seen people who felt like they were wasting their time?  It’s not pretty.

So we ask ourselves: Are my employees doing something important?  Is their role (and how they perform it) critical to guest service, revenue, efficiency, safety, team morale, etc.?  I would argue that yes, what our employees do is important (and valuable).  Why would we pay them to do it if it wasn’t?  At the same time, why do we continue to pay employees when they are no longer providing value?

You mean, like stop paying them?  No, I mean let them go.  Set them free. End the employment relationship.  If there is one thing that is undermining your ability to convey just how valuable employee 1 is, it’s keeping on employee 2, who is a slacker and doing just enough to not get fired. If I were employee 1 (doing the same job as employee 2), I wouldn’t think what I was doing was very valuable because employee 2 was still allowed to it.

And yes, you probably need employee 2 to fill a spot on the schedule, but other than that, they aren’t doing you any favors.

So if you value your employees, and you feel they bring value to the organization, how do we SHOW employees that they are valuable (so they’ll stay)?  Glad you asked.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rid yourself of slackers. I’m serious.  If they’ve been coached, and they just aren’t coming around (or aren’t a good fit for the team or company), cut your losses. Doing this shows how much you REALLY value the valuable employees for their worthy contributions.  Like it or not, employees compare EVERYTHING.  “I’m making the same amount as everyone else, but they don’t follow the rules, don’t come in on time or treat the guests well.  What the heck am I doing all that for?”  You have control over that value proposition.
  • Communicate value and worthiness.  Employees don’t auto-magically know how valuable they are. It’s tough sometimes to see past your current task and fathom how it all fits into the big picture.  It’s up to you to communicate to the ride operator, retail clerk or custodial attendant just how important their job is… not just in the context of what tasks they perform, but to the overall organization.  We do this through specific and sincere feedback, mentoring, and coaching.  We also do this by removing the word just when describing a position, job or assignment. He’s “just” a clerk, “just” go stand there and greet people.  You immediately remove any and all value that might have been previously implied.
  • Make working for you worth it. Remember in post #1 when we said that pay was only 1/10th of the overall compensation an employee gets, and that if that’s ALL they get (and by extension, all they’re worth) often they will say it’s not enough? Take that to heart and consider all of the other things that employees value.  Do they value personal development, communication, a team atmosphere, career growth, someone who will listen to them, challenge, involvement, feedback, customer service?  Do they have an interest or passion that we can tap into and put them in a position to use that on the job?  Don’t know?  Find out.  When others value what you value, or acknowledge your values as important, doesn’t that make the experience more worth it?

Ultimately, for your employees to stay, there is one question they will ask themselves everyday (and you likely ask yourself the same question).

Is this worth it?  If so, they will stay.

If not, they’ll eventually find a job that is worth it.

Next up: On A Mission

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

Infographic “How To” Post 6: Appreciated

This is part 6 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay6

This is supposed to be a post on “how to” appreciate your employees, as this is part of the equation that encourages them to stay with you.  However, appreciation is kind of a funny thing.

You see, we can (and will) talk about how to show your appreciation, but to have appreciation for something or someone, you have to genuinely be appreciative of that person or thing.

Here’s what I mean… the definition of appreciated is: to be grateful or thankful for.

I don’t believe you can fake those. You know the things you are grateful or thankful for in your life – in most cases you are naturally compelled to express how you feel about them.  If you don’t appreciate it, you don’t express the gratitude.  

So if you don’t truly appreciate your employees, you can’t genuinely appreciate them.

This makes me think we can take this in two different directions:

  • If you don’t appreciate your employees, how can you develop an appreciation for them?
  • If you do appreciate your employees but don’t know how to show it, how can you show it?

Let’s take the first (and more difficult one) first. You don’t appreciate your employees, meaning you are not genuinely grateful or thankful for them.  My question would be, why?

These are the folks who are literally running your business.  They have contact with your guests, they are your brand messengers, and they represent you to the masses.  Sure they can also be a bit of a pain… coming in late, goofing off and basically not taking you or the job you are providing them very seriously.  It can be hard to be thankful for those folks.

But maybe we’ve got this backwards.  Maybe we’ve got to make the first investment, rather than waiting for them to show us a reason to be thankful. For some who are caught up in the “entitlement of millenials” mindset, you might be digging in, refusing to give in to their demands.  “They think the world owes them everything, well I’m gonna teach them a lesson!”

Really?  The only lesson here (that you probably won’t learn) is that you screwed up in how you lead your employees.  Without genuine appreciation, you will continue to think that the entitled generation just jump ship when they don’t get what they want… like taking their ball and going home.

But, could it be that your lack of genuine gratefulness for their contributions to your company have created a negative environment for your employees? After all, our thoughts drive our behaviors, so whether you think so or not, your attitude is more likely what is driving people away than their flaky disposition.

We’ll let that sink in…

So now let’s look at the other side of the coin… you DO appreciate your employees, but may not know the best way to show it.

Fair enough.

I would start with what you find valuable regarding appreciation.  Of course everyone is different, but understanding what means something to you is a good start.

Do you like it when your Supervisor asks your opinion?  How about when he/she shares important company information that helps you understand where you stand and where the company is going?  How about when they just come up to you ask a little bit about how your life outside of work is going?

Or what about when they remember something you told them weeks or months before?  When I was at Universal, our dog passed away.  I told my boss and he said, “I’m so sorry, how old was Lucy?”

He and I hadn’t talked about Lucy for at least 2 or 3 months, in fact I only remember mentioning her name once or twice before. But he remembered her name, which means he was listening. I felt appreciated.

If some of those hit a chord with you, they’ll likely hit a chord with your employees. Especially being listened to.

More formally, providing meaningful feedback and recognition of accomplishments go a long way to show people how grateful you are that they are at work, doing the things that help your business succeed.

Below is an example of something that happened to me when I was 15 years old, and it has stuck with me ever since.  If you have been in any of my leadership classes, the example may sound familiar, but it’s a great example of how to show appreciation in a meaningful way.

This situation happened between myself and Dave Smalley, who was the GM of the grocery store I was working at during high school:

Dave:  Matt, I just wanted to let you know how you make my job easier.  Whenever you are here, you are so good at getting all of the carriages out of the parking lot, and that really helps us in a couple of ways.  First, we’ve had to repaint some cars that got scratched by carriages left in the parking lot, but because you clear the lot so well, we haven’t had to do that recently. Plus, when there are more carriages in the store, customers have more room for more groceries, so they tend to buy a little more.  Those two things really help us out. Thanks!

How could you NOT feel appreciated after that? It was specific to me and the situation and delivered sincerely. And of course, that drove me to head back out into the lot because I didn’t want to be thanked for something I wasn’t doing.

And as great as the words were, what you don’t get from reading the transcript was that Dave came down to my area to thank me, he didn’t call me up to the office. He also shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and smiled while he said it. It was genuine.

And I think that’s the most important part of the appreciation topic – being genuine.  Like I said above, I don’t think you can fake this.  If you don’t get it quite right the first time, if you really mean it, people will notice.  They won’t get caught up in the mechanics of what you say, but rather the emotion and sincerity of how you say it.

If there was ever a time for a quote from Maya Angelou to wrap up a topic, this is it.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And that’s the thing about appreciation. We FEEL appreciated or we don’t. Hopefully your employees do.

Next up: Valued

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt  Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

Infographic “How To” Post 5: Involved

This is part 5 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay5I remember when I first started working for Universal in 2003, part of our leadership training included the top 10 things that motivated employees. Not surprisingly, that list contained many of the same things as the infographic above.

But, instead of just telling the managers in our classes how these things ranked from 1-10, we asked THEM to rank them first.  It’s fascinating to see how managers and employees view these things differently.

Almost without fail, the managers said that money was the biggest motivator, and would appear at number 1 on the employee survey.

And they were wrong.

In fact, “feeling in on things” was number 1 on this survey of employee motivators, and money was number 4 (if memory serves).  What I do know is that money wasn’t number 1, which left a lot of managers scratching their heads.

And guess what?  Things haven’t changed much in 13 years.  People still CRAVE involvement, and they want to know that they are part of something larger than themselves.

Just look at social media and technology… at their core, they are just another way to connect people – and now its SO easy to do just that!  You can complain all you want about people being on their phones and being “so rude” at a meal… but rewind 20 years (and sometimes not even that far) and look around your local diner at the couples who are both reading separate parts of the newspaper.

Nope.  Electronic wizardly gadgets didn’t create this behavior, a human beings’ need to connect did.

And that’s what involvement is all about.  Connecting with your employees so they feel “in on things”, part of the process, and an important voice in the outcome of their own professional destiny (or “density” for BTTF fans!).

If you have read the posts in this series about Mentoring and Challenging your employees, you have already found a few ways to involve your employees in meaningful ways. If you haven’t read those yet, now is a good time to get caught up:

These two posts show some formal and not-so-formal ways to get your employees involved.  Even more informally, think about why you enjoy what you do… is it because you do the same thing over and over again and have very little input about what goes on around you?  Didn’t think so.  Why would you think your employees are any different?

Sometimes it’s as simple as asking their opinions or thoughts on the business, guest service, team morale, etc.  The topic is less important that the process of getting employees to feel as though they are invested enough in your operation to want to stay.

But, before you put up that suggestion box for employee ideas that will ultimately become a trash receptacle, here are some lo-fi but proven ways to get your employees more involved:

  • Talk to them (when you don’t have to)
  • Ask them questions
  • Address them by name
  • Treat them with respect
  • Trust them
  • Get to know them as people
  • Follow through on suggestions (even if – especially if – you can’t implement something)
  • Get their input on future hiring decisions
  • Listen to them
  • Include them on decisions
  • Invite them to meetings as a development opportunity
  • Ask them to help with a special project
  • Explain your decisions

These were listed in no particular order, and some may be more applicable to your situation than others.  They all presuppose that you are genuinely interested in getting your employees more involved so they’ll stay.  If that’s not the case, don’t bother.

Please do keep in mind that the items above are not one-and-done type prospects.  It will take an investment of your time (YOUR involvement) and a variety of these tactics to create an environment were people feel involved and will reciprocate with ideas, suggestions and discretionary effort.

Oh, right… and they’ll stay.

Next up: Appreciated

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt  Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

Infographic “How To” Post 4: Promoted

This is part 4 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay4

I look at this concept of promotion or promoting employees in two different ways.

  1. Moving into a new job at a higher level in the organization
  2. To help or encourage to exist or flourish; further (Dictionary.com)

The first one is probably what most of us think of when we think about an employee being promoted, certainly in the context why an employee would stay at a certain organization. And why not, it can encapsulate many of the other attributes in the infographic…

When you get promoted, you:

  • Get paid more (usually)
  • Are challenged in your new role
  • Are more involved with decision making
  • Feel appreciated and that you bring a higher value to the company
  • Are more closely connected to the mission
  • Are likely more empowered because of increased responsibility
  • Feel like there is a higher level of trust all around

Of course, that’s the optimist talking… there is also probably additional stress, pressure, and depending on the job and culture, fear of making the wrong move on a bigger stage.

But, for our discussion, we’ll say that most of that positive stuff happens and it makes people want to stay. Groovy.

Unfortunately, we all know what’s coming next, “I don’t have enough spots to promote everyone, and oh, by the way, not everyone is ready or qualified to move up.”

That’s good.  It’s good that you recognize that not everyone is ready to move up. I would frankly be concerned if you said EVERYONE was qualified to take the next step.  That means we aren’t taking a discerning enough look at who is truly ready, willing and able to jump into a role with more responsibility.

It’s also important to understand WHY to promote someone. Do they possess an ability to lead and are ready to move up, or are they just the best performer in their group?  Not that we should discount the best performer, but just being good at what they currently do is not reason enough to anoint them with a higher title and more responsibility.  I would dare say that in the situation of promoting someone who is not ready would actually make them want to leave… they are not set up for success nor do the people around them have much faith in their ability to step up and lead.  Bad news all around.

For the positions you do have to fill, do you have a process that helps you determine who is truly the best candidate?  Many places use a leadership application to start the process; much like applying for a job as a ride operator or security guard, a leadership application allows people to tell their story and “raise their hand” to show interest in the position.

The leadership application does a few things.  First, it evens the playing field and allows anyone who is interested to apply – that way you don’t accidentally overlook someone.  Second, it shows you who is actually interested in taking the next step. I have seen far too many people who fall into the “reluctant leader” role.  Not pretty.

This is also a great opportunity to dust off front line hiring practices like group interviews, panel interviews, games and scenario-based evaluations and put a leadership spin on them. Like a regular applicant, it’s important to see what they are going to be like when in the new role, while also giving them a realistic view of what they are getting themselves into.

And if you REALLY want to be proactive, start the season before.  Develop a list of tasks or projects that you can have people do as a trial before you put them into a leadership role or let them shadow a Lead or Supervisor for a day.  Even let them know that this opportunity is an audition or part of the interview process to be considered for a promotion the next season. This will tell you if they have the long-term stick-to-it-ive-ness and dedication that you want your leaders to have.

One of the reasons that NOT being promoted may cause people to be disgruntled or leave is that they don’t know WHY they didn’t get the promotion or don’t know what they could do in the future to be ready for one.  This is the most often missed or overlooked part of the process.  If you want to keep the people you don’t promote, take the time, make the investment to tell them WHY.  Meet with them face-to-face, give them constructive and developmental feedback about why they weren’t chosen and what they can do to develop their skills in the future. You can’t promote everyone, but you do have the responsibility to let people know why they aren’t ready for the next level. By letting them guess or fill in the blanks themselves, they will most likely create their own answer that will put themselves in the best possible light, downplaying the accomplishments and skills of those who did get promoted.  It’s human nature.  You can take that to the bank.

This leads us to the other definition of promotion, which is to support, encourage, and help your employees to flourish.  We’ve all (hopefully) had that leader who we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, had our back.  When we needed an advocate, or someone to go to bat for us, they were there.  When we needed someone to tell us honestly what we could improve in our own performance, they were there.  When we needed someone to encourage us to keep our chin up, they were there.  And, when we needed someone to sing our praises, they were there.  That kind of support and care creates loyalty, and loyalty makes people want to stay.

It’s a reality that we can’t promote everyone into a leadership role (and again, we shouldn’t be trying).  But, we can promote our employees by supporting them, encouraging them, and creating an environment where they can flourish. Communicating why someone didn’t get bumped up actually falls into this second category as well, which to me makes it as critical to your employee promotion efforts as moving people up the ladder.

Next up: Involved

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt  Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

Infographic “How To” Post 3: Challenged

This is part 3 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay3For a long time there was (and maybe still is) a movement to try to remove all risk from the jobs that our employees do.  We worked to simplify, streamline and dare I say… idiot-proof many of the tasks and procedures that our employees are engaged in.

Part of the reason could have been safety… too many accidents or even near accidents.  That makes sense.  But there was also a pervasive mindset that while we’re making things safer, let’s also make them easier.

“It’ll be easier to train this position and our employees can get up to speed faster.”  What that really says is that we can spend fewer of our precious training dollars on teaching them complex tasks.  Along this same line, many conversations in management offices were also lamenting the fact that the young workforce just couldn’t handle those tasks.

“They don’t have the work ethic, discipline… blah, blah, blah… so we’ve gotta make these jobs idiot-proof – you won’t even need to THINK to do it.”

And there in-lies the problem.  Sure, you’ve shaved some time off the training schedule and saved a few bucks, but now you have a job that no one really wants to do.  You want top talent in your organization, serving your guests?  Don’t give them simpleton, dumbed-down jobs to do. After all, the only person who WANTS to do an idiot-proof job is… well… an idiot.

So here we are, with (potentially) oversimplified jobs and training schedules that produce mundane, apathetic performance in the field.  Why? Because our employees are not given the chance to do what they are naturally wired for – survive in a challenging environment.

Of course it may not LOOK like that to you, their manager, but regardless of generation, race, creed, color or ethnic background, humans are largely wired the same. We’re survivors, and we rise to the expectations and challenges that are set up for us (given the right circumstances, motivations, and environment, of course).

No challenge = no need to try any harder

Yes, you may have some slackers and under-performers, but I would argue that it’s not because of a lack of drive to survive, but a lack of the right environment where they feel it’s important (or necessary) to accept the challenge in front of them.  We’re not running from sabre-tooth tigers anymore, so we have to be a little more creative in presenting these situations.

These “situations” are the jobs we hire our employees for. Interacting with guests, running rides, selling tickets, flipping hamburgers… so many of these jobs that have been sanitized for your protection.  Now, I am certainly not advocating that we remove safety procedures or mechanisms, but what challenge this poses for US is how to make these mundane and risk averse jobs more interesting.  Give them something to do, something to think about, some way to use their brain on a regular basis.

To me, this means making some new activity a higher expectation than it was before.  For example, let’s take a greeter at an attraction.  Their job is to greet, check heights, screen for loose articles, etc.  At busy times, this can be challenging, but the surge of guests may ebb and flow throughout the day.  What is their challenge when it’s a little slower?  Do we give them anything else to do during those times?

Do we teach them how to engage a stranger in conversation?  When the line is stopped near the greeter, and there is a period of time that passes that the greeter and a group of guests are standing within a few feet of each other… what do we often see the greeter doing?  Looking around, looking at the ground, looking longingly at the ride platform hoping their next rotation comes soon… How about in those instances we teach and encourage our employees to engage in conversation with the guests?  We teach them about conversation starters and visual cues so that they can talk to the guests, which makes the time go by faster for everyone.

I know what you’re going to say… we teach those things in orientation. Great, but how much time do you spend with them at the greeter position following up? How often are you out there setting the example?  How much of a priority is it for you?  If you say “not much”, then it’s not going to be much of a priority for your employees, either.  They aren’t going to see this is as a true challenge or even a job duty.  It’s just something “they” talk about but don’t really expect us to do.

I also think sometimes we let people “off the hook” to be the best they can be at even the “mundane” jobs.  We know it’s easy, so we don’t expect people to put a whole lot of effort into it.  If we don’t think the job is important, they won’t either.

Here are some other ways to challenge employees that are not so job specific:

  • Ask them to work on a project to improve something.  Need more efficiency, higher sales, etc., ask your employees to help come up with ideas.  BONUS – if you implement their ideas, they’ll have MUCH higher buy-in than if you came up with the same idea.
  • When they complain about something, ask for a solution. Follow-up with them in a few days or a week and ask them what they came up with.
  • Hold them to the high standards you already have.  Seeing the high expectations many companies have for their employees, starting with enforcing the standards you already have can be challenging enough.

As I re-read this post to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything (which is still possible!), I noticed a trend.  A lot of what it takes to challenge people is in the follow-up – which I know is a HUGE challenge for leaders.  So maybe we start there… dedicate yourself to following-up with your team… what you say…. what you do… what you expect.  Make what you SAY is important BE important to others.

You have to rise to THAT challenge before we can talk about how to further challenge our employees.  Are you up for it?

Next up: Promoted

Thanks for reading!

Matt

About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt  Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.