Friday, July 31, 2009

Promises, Promises

To continue or conversation from last week on employee commitment, I wanted to share a customer experience I just had on vacation this week.

Our family goes to Gulf Shores, Alabama just about every year on vacation. We have stayed at many properties in the area. This time we had enough points for us to stay at a well known national chain, so we did.

On our way down, we called for an early check-in and the front desk clerk said, "Well , we can't promise that we can have that for you as we are booked, so we don't want to commit to that." Those words perked my ears right up. I thought wow, "promise and commitment" that employee is very engaged.

We arrived at the hotel and the staff were beyond friendly. We got to our rooms and I saw a laminated card that read:

We promise to:

  • Always make you feel welcome

  • Always give you a room that's clean and reflects the highest quality

  • Always respond promptly to any need you might have

  • Always give you the service that will make you want to return

They were absolutely living the above statement. So, of course, I had to ask the question, "How does everyone in this hotel seem to rally around your promise?" The employee responded to me by saying, "Because the company does the same thing for us." BINGO

This is an example of a company that understands commitment is two-way and that the company delivers on its promises to the employee and the employees in turn delivery on its promises to the customer. So simple, yet so IMPACTFUL.

Next time I go on vacation, I will stay at the same hotel, EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT RIGHT ON THE BEACH!!!!

How do you think HR can design a customer experience like the one above???

Check out our video on the difference between employee loyalty and employee satisfaction.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Commitment is a Two Way Street

We used to track employee satisfaction and we got really excited when we learned that 85% of our employees were satisfied. The bad news was that yes they were satisfied, but they still were apt to leave when a better offer came through or they were NOT performing at their peak.

So, then we got smart and said we have to measure engagement. We then did a lot of research and found what drives engagement. Things like accountability, career development, mission and vision awareness, trust, culture, pay and the list goes on. We also measured how loyal an employee is, but that measure today is skewed because I will argue we have a lot of loyal employees due to our economic situation. So, the question is, are our employees that are loyal and engaged really performing at their potential?

I now believe that commitment drives performance. Think about being committed to something and how that affects your behavior. I am committed to my volunteer work because I want homeless men and women to find a job and become self sufficient. I am committed to the organization and the people, so I volunteer many hours a year to assist in the cause.

What do our employees commit to at work?

1) They can commit to the organization

2) They can commit to the team they are on

3) They can make commitments to co-workers and bosses

4) They can be committed to all, some or none of the above

What is commitment?

I believe that commitment is 2 way. Employers have to commit to their employees and vice versa. Just like in marriage, you can't have one person that is committed and one that is "sorta committed."

The definition of commitment is:

"The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of
action or to another person or persons"

The key words are "emotionally" and "intellectually." So, you either have their heart or mind or both. I would argue that you need both to drive high performance.

Now, the big question is, "How do you get your employees to commit?" How can organizations commit to its employees? (this is where I would love your input!)

What are your thoughts on gaining commitment? More to come in next week's blog...

Check out the video below on 5 levels of employee commitment:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HR Trends: What is in Store Post-Recession?

I have been asked to speak to a group of up and coming HR students. The topic is, "HR Trends" for our next generation of HR professionals. WOW and YIKES!

For this first time in a long time, I have had to pause and really think about what I want to say to this group. As many of my readers know, I have been adamant about HR being strategic, and forgetting about the illusive executive table. But, with all that said, what do you say to a bunch of bright-eyed, smart young individuals who are considering HR as their career? (Especially in these crazy times).

I have posed this question many times to colleagues, and on Twitter, etc. I get answers ranging from, "They should switch majors immediately" to "they must be business savvy to be effective."

So, here is my short list (work in progress) of trends for HR post recession:

1) Compliance will be front and center-With new legislation like Lilly Ledbetter and updates to existing legislation like FMLA and ADA, HR professionals will need to focus on the impacts these changes have on the organization. Pending legislation is another area that HR should be concerned with, especially laws like EFCA.

2) Social Networking-what does this new and exciting medium mean to HR? How does it affect the way we recruit, retain and engage our workforce?

3) Perform or go home-Companies are going to be very serious about performance. Gone are the days where you could carry the dead weight/marginal performers hoping to get rid of them during the next restructuring. HR needs to lead the effort on making sure all tools are in place to make sure high performers are rewarded, identified and retained and that low performers are coached to improvement or terminated.

4) HR must measure its own performance-Instead of focusing on the usual metrics like turnover and time to fill, really start measuring items that really matter to the organization. Metrics like revenue/employee and average performance rating of new hires really get to things like efficiency and effectiveness rather than high level metrics like turnover that do not mean anything unless you know who is leaving and why.

5) HR competencies are very different today-This is not my mother's HR department!  Today HR professionals need very different skills to be effective in today's environment.  I believe business acumen, financial acumen, analytical skills, change agent, and relationship builder are a just a few competencies that  are needed.  Do you have others?  Please comment below.

This is my short list of trends, please feel free to comment and let me know what you think. I know the students will be gratetful to hear many perspectives on this topic.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why Aren't People Working While at Work?

My son recently began his first job. He is doing mostly manual labor in a retail environment, but he is excited about the opportunity. He knows that I am in business as a consultant and I work with helping companies be better performers. So, he naturally has had many questions for me:

  1. Who is FICA and Medicare and why are they getting my money? What if I dont want Medicare when I am old? I directed him to ask that to our current President and his Grandmother who is currently collecting on both.

  2. Why do people get to read magazines at work and others don't? Interesting question, which I respond with insights into motivation, work ethic and accountability.

  3. Why are people lazy at work especially when we are in a recession? Another good question which I refer back to number 2 with some added thoughts on leadership.

  4. Why do we turn customers away because the lazy people reading magazines can't get to their jobs out in less than 2 weeks? I told him to give his manager my phone number.

In all seriousness, I began to think about why these individuals are not engaged in their work. And then it dawned on me. People like to be held accountable. So, yesterday I dusted off my old MBA textbooks on Motivational and Work Behavior to see what it had to say. (plus I needed some facts about this blog, that I was mulling over).

Without going into a lot of theory, basically the authors (Richard Steers and Lyman Porter) discuss determinants of commitment:

  1. Goal Setting-Individuals like to have goals and it doesn't really matter who sets them. They can or management can. In a research study when employees set their own goals they were similar to those set by management

  2. Group Influence-Peer pressure matters in the workplace

  3. Values, incentives and rewards-need to encourage production and have value to the worker

  4. Interactiveness-active participation in the workplace.

  5. Internal factors-Expectancy of success and self reward. These definitely have to do with the psyche of the employee. Simply put, does the employee expect he/she can reach the goals and do they give themselves credit for reaching the goal?

So, what can the company mentioned above do: (for very few dollars)

1. Make sure all employees have measurable goals that are attainable, they like that. (see 1 above)

2. Put in some kind of incentive for good performance perhaps a contest on customer feedback that is tracked visually. (incentives plus peer pressure)

I am sure there are many other areas that need attention, but these screamed at me as being some low hanging fruit they may want to try. What are some other areas you feel drive employee commitment? I have a few ideas what are yours?