How Can You Make Them Move If They Donít Know What You Want?
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How Can You Make Them Move If They Donít Know What You Want?

Communicating Your Companyís Goals and Values

By Johnny Duncan

When communicating with employees, it is essential to remember why they are there and why your business exists. In other words, the goals of the organization and those of the employees must be in line. This goes beyond merely developing job descriptions and employee handbooks. Keeping employees working in your organization creates a challenge that can only be met by communicating your personal and business values to the employee and discovering what their values are and what their expectations of your values are.

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  • The Beginning of a Fall

    There can be two renderings of whatís important when a company talks about one set of values but acts on quite another. For example, a company may emphasize quality over and over in its advertisement, public relations pieces, and in-house publications. But in its day-to-day operations-- the actual business of getting things done-- management may, in fact, be far more concerned with high output and low production costs than with quality.

    The customer may not notice at first and the general public may not care, but your employees are the first to see the discrepancy. They are the ones who face the confusion and lose confidence in their leadership. The employeeís values now coincide with managementísí and a snow-ball effect of distrust followed by disloyalty, then low moral and finally poor performance can result.

    By thinking about other peopleís values-- the behaviors they follow and the rules they live by-- you can more easily see why certain difficulties have arisen and where they have been most likely to arise. People will flourish only when their personal values are in agreement with the organizationís values. This alignment is only possible through direct communication with the employees.

    As the workplace continues to become more diverse, managers and supervisors will need to adjust their interactions with others, communicating in a way that considers the different needs, backgrounds and experiences of people. Listening must become the first pure communication skill to perfect. Employees appreciate leaders who listen, and supervisors need to listen closely as their organization strives to involve more people in daily operations, decision making and customer interaction.

    Labor can do nothing without capital, capital nothing without labor, and neither labor nor capital can do anything without the guiding genius of management.

    --W.L. Mackenzie King

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    Management and the leadership of an organization hold all the cards for turning this negative downward spiral into a harmonious performing relationship. In his book, "Get Everyone in your Boat Rowing in the Same Direction", Bob Boylan suggests that two important types of business relationships are those with your employees and your vendors. He gives some suggestions to match up your organizationís values with your employees and your vendorís:

    During the hiring process, ask a prospective employee to talk about his or her personal values, as well as the values the person is looking for in your organization.

    Give the prospective employee a list of 10 to 15 values any organization might hold. Included in the list will be your organizationís values. Ask the person to rank on a 1 to 10 scale the ones he or she feels are really important.

    In the discussion that follows, you and your prospective employee will discuss if you both fit-- or better yet, whether the person will soar once employed.

    When entering into a relationship (which you hope will be long-term) with a vendor, it is entirely appropriate to discuss your organizational values and the vendorís. Get these values out in front of you on paper. Look at the key overlapping areas of agreement. See if there are some areas of disagreement.

    Once the values and goals of your organization are clearly communicated, then it is just a matter of giving them room to succeed and motivating them when needed.

    Leadership: the act of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.

    --Dwight D. Eisenhower

    In striving to make your business successful, it becomes difficult to keep up with all aspects of running it. The pressures of tax burdens and other government regulations, stiff competition and finding and keeping employees takes all the time and energy you have. However, in order to keep the employees you have and maintain good customer service, it is imperative that you find the time to evaluate the condition of your employees in relation to their job performance.

    By condition I mean, do they have the proper "tools" to be the performers you want them to be? Check yourself against the five standards as outlined in the book "Improving Performance" by Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache:

    • Performance Specifications: Do the performers understand the outputs they are expected to produce and the standards they are expected to meet?
    • Task Support: Do the performers have sufficient resources, clear signals and priorities, and a logical set of job requirements?
    • Consequences: Are the performers rewarded for achieving the communicated goals?
    • Feedback: Do the performers know whether they are meeting the goals?
    • Skills and Knowledge: Do the performers have the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve the goals?
    • Individual Capacity: In an environment in which the five questions listed above were answered affirmatively, would the performers have the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to achieve the goals?

    In order to be successful, managers must create a supportive environment around the people who will determine whether the company strategy becomes reality.

    It is motive alone that gives character to the actions of men.

    --Bruyere

    Motivating your employees to do the job you want them to do and how you want them to do it cannot be accomplished without clear communication. However, after establishing that your companyís goals and values are in line with that of your employees, the next step is to motivate them to action.

    Motivation can take many forms and it takes time and some trial and error to determine what precisely motivates your employees. One of the most successful motivation tools is to empower your employees and give them a sense of ownership in what they are doing.

    Jack Welsh, the CEO of General Electric and one of the most respected manager in business today, once commented that the best way to motivate employees is to "get the management layers off their backs, the bureaucratic shackles off their feet, and the functional barriers out of their way". Mr. Welch created a solution known as Work-Out, a program designed to foster, capture, and implement good ideas, regardless of their origin. By getting more involved, Welch argued employees would be helping to strengthen GEís businesses-- and healthy, growing businesses were the best guarantee of job security.

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    Though he was empowering his employees through Work-Out, Welch didnít want to label the new process empowerment. He preferred the phrase high involvement. By making his employees feel that they had a stake in the companyís future, Welch was hoping to inject a spirit of common purpose among GEís employees and businesses (Robert Slater, Jack Welch and the GE Way, 1999).

    Like Jack Welch, we too can create a sense of ownership in our employees. We first have to stop clinging to our businesses and holding them so close to our chest. Let others inside of your goal setting sessions. Nothing will be lost or stolen when you let go of your precious visions. But something drastic will happen. You will begin to see those goals and dreams actually coming true. Your employees, that you hired, will help to see those visions become reality.

    It is going to take time to organize and develop, but the time invested will be worth the payoff. Begin today communicating your values and goals for the company. Be sure to seek out what your employeeís values and goals are, and listen. And finally, give them the space and the tools to become "high involvement" employees.

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