Here is an article written by Michael Hess for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Lara604
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(MoneyWatch) Valentine’s Day has come and gone but it’s always a fitting time to talk about employee love. (No, not the “meet me in the storage room in five minutes” kind.) I’m talking about the things that the best companies do to engender the dedication, loyalty and, yes, even the love of the people who work for them.
Everyone knows that the days of the one-company career are long gone. Depending on what data you choose to believe, the average person will change jobs somewhere around five to seven times in a lifetime. So if you run a business, it is virtually certain you will lose every employee you have (hopefully not all at once). In fact, you might even help some of them move on.
It’s a reality that stinks, because enlightened companies know that employees are at least as important as customers and other stakeholders, and great employees are hard to find and painful to lose. But it’s a reality nonetheless. So, while you may have to accept the likelihood that your people won’t stay forever, you should never stop working at making your company the kind of place that’s hard to leave.
Companies with the happiest and most productive employees, and the lowest turnover, tend to have these six people-priorities (or similar iterations) in common. Compare your own work environment to this list to see if your business is geared towards retention.
[Here are the first three of six. To read the complete article, please click here.]
1. Trust. In both directions. Your employees need to trust you, know where they stand with you, and feel safe with you. And you must show that you trust them, whether it’s with projects, decisions, time or money. The miserable and destructive phenomenon of “office politics,” as clichéd as it may be, really boils down to nothing more than issues of trust.
2. Responsibility. Give your people as much as they can handle, maybe even a little more. It tells them that they and their jobs are valuable and gives them a chance to shine (or fail). It helps you identify star performers, it discourages logjams and gets more done, and it’s good for your business.
3. Culture. I’ve written about it a lot and I can’t write about it enough. Your company culture — both the qualities and genuineness of it — is its heart and soul, the glue that holds it together, the spirit that drives it. Plain and simple, great employees don’t stick around companies with lousy cultures, and all other things being equal, employees perform better within a great culture. And this is an area where smaller businesses can almost always have an edge.
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The employer/employee relationship is much the same as any other relationship: what you get largely reflects what you give.
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Michael Hess is founder and CEO of Skooba Design, and also serves as an advisor to other entrepreneurs. He is “obsessed to the point of insanity” with customer service. To read the philosophies that make Michael and Skooba Design tick, please click here.
“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more that just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” (Deborah Tannen).
Listening is an essential and underutilized service behavior… Every day you have the opportunity to strengthen your relationships with staff members and customers by listening to them and helping them see the power that comes from “knowing” their customer.
Joseph Michelli, Prescription for Excellence
It starts here – with listening. All customer service, all business interaction, requires the attention given by you to the person on the other end of the interaction. And that starts with listening.
And there are some very physical aspects of listening. For example, where are you pointing your face, especially your eyeballs. I use the word “eyeballs” on purpose. The words “eye contact” seem to no longer be strong enough. So how about this: “eyeball to eyeball contact.”
So, if you point your eyeballs at the eyeballs of the other person, you have a much better chance of actually listening to them. Here are some places to not point your eyeballs when you should be listening to a person:
At your iPhone
At your computer
At someone else walking by
At a book or a magazine
Or anywhere else – except the person you are listening to…
And then, to genuinely listen, when the other person is talking, you actually listen to what he/she says, both the words and the body language. You do not take the time while someone else is talking to “figure out what you are going to say next.” You listen to the other person, and then, after a pause, it is your turn to speak. You pay attention to that other person, and then you respond to that person.
Listening may be the ultimate sign of respect. And everything else flows from good listening moments.
(And, remember – it might be even more valuable to remember to listen with “empathy”).