Drive Profitability, Forge Trusted Ties with Employees

Gregg Lederman,EO Western New York
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Gregg Lederman
EO Western New York

The most profitable companies today have something in common—many of them are recognized as one of the best places to work in their respective industries. The leaders of these companies have made a conscious decision to put their employees first. Why? Quite simply: They know they must first “delight the workplace” in order to “delight their customers.”

Think about it. Employees are on stage every day performing for customers. If they’re not happy, their attitudes and behaviors reflect it, resulting in poor or inconsistent performances. This drains your company of its ability to deliver exceptional products and services, sustain loyalty and increase profits, not to mention attract and retain more talented performers.

I can’t think of one leader I’ve met who wasn’t motivated to achieve more profitable growth. But I can think of thousands who believe that throwing dollars at morale and retention problems will delight their workers enough to boost results. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t always foster sustainable impacts. It’s my experience that turning an organization into a profitable, “best place to work” isn’t about lavishing employees with incentives, perks and creative work schedules. It’s about providing the knowledge, tools and direction to help employees see how their daily performance makes an impact on the company’s success.

Let’s face it. People don’t get out of bed each day, brew the coffee and run off to work simply to make their bosses and company owners more money. They do it to earn a living and to feel like they’re making a difference. Yet, in a recent study conducted with more than 12,000 U.S. employees, nearly 50 percent were not happy with their work at the end of the week, and a whopping 60 percent felt their company’s mission statement couldn’t be translated into ways that are meaningful to their work.

So what can companies do to ignite each employee’s intrinsic desire and passion for making a difference at work? In my experience, they can begin by making their “stuff” more meaningful. Most companies today invest in creating two types of stuff.

  • First there is the “Who Stuff,” which is a clear description of who your company is or wants to be known as; i.e., your brand image/reputation. This typically consists of mission statements, values, principles, cultural drivers and brand promises.

  • The second type of stuff is the “What Stuff,” which are the desired business results to be achieved. This includes clearly stated goals and objectives, such as cus¬tomer satisfaction, financial targets and measurements.

While this information is critical to plotting a course, companies often fail to make it actionable by giving employees direction on how to do the “stuff” as part of their day-to-day work. Without these guidelines, they can’t possibly embrace the “stuff,” commit to doing it and, most importantly, take action to deliver great performances for each other and customers.

Companies on “the best to work for” lists solve this dilemma by putting into practice what I call the “How Factors.” The How Factors are a simple, logical framework for ensuring that employees aren’t frustrated by an overload of strategy that they don’t know how to execute or impact. There are three How Factors that every company should do:

  • Set clear expectations for behavior. Develop and integrate proprietary brand-driven behaviors that clearly define what successful performance is at the company level and individual level by job function.

  • Deliver strategic and consistent communication. Integrate these behavior expectations into critical leadership and human resource practices, including recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and performance assessments and evaluations. Then, continually educate and motivate employees through a strategic, performance-focused recognition program. If executed well, this program can also be used to capture and share the best practices that have the highest impact on achieving business results.

  • Drive accountability for success. Measure employee understanding and action on the behaviors and experiences which bring the brand to life through performance assessments and evaluations. To fully evaluate success, managers should also measure performance against the company’s documented “stuff.”

I have found that companies that employ these How Factors are rewarded for their efforts beyond financial benefits. If your company isn’t building respected and trusted relationships between management and employees, or employees aren’t taking pride in their work, get laser-focused on the How Factors. Set and communicate behavioral expectations and watch how accountability for success flourishes, putting your company on the pathway to being a more profitable, best place to work.

For more information on implement¬ing How Factors, visit There you will find free downloads for setting up a performance infrastructure capable of creating a “best place to work” culture, where employees thrive by knowing how they can make a difference.

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