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Building Loyalty From the Ground Up
by Lorraine Grubbs-West
In a world where there is little competitive advantage in Price, Product and Processes, there still remains one "secret weapon" that companies who are on the cutting edge utilize to keep them ahead of the game: the fourth "P", their People. By focusing on their people and utilizing methods to earn and keep the loyalty of their employees, these companies have discovered that they are able to remain profitable and compete in an increasingly difficult competitive environment; regardless of the type of business they run. This article, the first in a series of "Loyalty Builders", outlines the "ABC's" of loyalty building.
The foundation block is in the hiring.
You may have heard the phrase "hire for attitude, train for skill". While in theory it sounds good, what does it really mean? In reality, when you have an opening you need to fill right away, and when the work is either not getting done or falling on others to do, can you afford to wait for that "right attitude" to walk in the door? It's tempting to throw a warm body into a position, but in the long run, you may be better off taking the pain of being short- handed up front rather than suffering the pain of a bad hire on the back end.
During my 15 years with Southwest Airlines, we were faced with this scenario many times. While it was tempting to shortcut our hiring cycle, we found the few times we did, we ended up worse off than if we had just stuck to our plan and waited through the process.
A good hiring process should keep you out of the above-mentioned scenario in that it should provide you with a continual flow of qualified candidates ready to go. Where to begin? Here's a simple step-by-step process that should yield you the results you want, whether you have five or 50,000 employees:
What traits are you looking for in your employees? "Nice people" is not specific enough. Define "nice" by looking at your company's mission statement and then saying, "We want people who have a good sense of humor, or are other versus me-oriented." Then ask," Why would we want those traits? What impact will that have on our business"? For example, if you hire someone who is other-oriented, they may be more apt to put themselves in the customer's shoes or be better team players. If you hire someone who possesses a good sense of humor, they may be more apt to handle stressful situations better or create a more team-friendly environment. To determine what kinds of traits you are looking for in your organization, begin by reviewing your company's mission statement and values.
Now that you know what traits you are looking for, where are you going to find them? Are you advertising in a way that "nice" people will be attracted to your company? Target your employment ads so they will appeal to the type of person you want to attract. Want someone with a good sense of humor? Make your ad humorous. Want someone with a caring attitude? Show that on your ad. Don't overlook one of the most important sourcing channels, your own employees. Who better than they know what traits you need? Also, take some time to think about what people outside your organization think about your company as an employer. What "branding" image exists about your company? Walk into a grocery store or around your community with your company uniform or clothing with your company logo and see if anyone makes a comment. Ask people what they think, and then be prepared to act on what you hear. With a good employer branding image, your recruiting process is well on its way.
You are now ready to interview the potential applicant. Your process should include the Human Resources department, someone from the team the person will work with, and a supervisor or leader from that same team. These employees should have received basic interview training prior to being in the interview. This ensures the correct questions are asked and it also ensures a fair and equitable interview for the applicant. Target your questions to get to the traits you identified earlier. Use behavioral interviewing and, if you have identified humor as one of the traits you are seeking, try probing with the following: "Tell me about a time you used humor to defuse a difficult customer situation". This makes the candidate think of a real scenario which they have experienced versus inventing a "what if". Want to know if they are good team players? Use "Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for one of your team members". Once you have concluded the interview, make sure all parties involved in the interview review and discuss the interview and all are in agreement if that person is to be offered a job or not. Remember to always treat the applicant as a customer, no matter what. Many of your applicants probably are customers and you want to keep them as such.
Now comes the fun part. Someone gets to call this applicant and make the job offer. Employees never forget that moment. Where were you when you got that call or letter? Phone calls are much better because this not only gives the company the opportunity to convey their excitement about hiring the new employee, but it also gives the employee an opportunity to share in the excitement and ask questions. You want them to remember that moment and retain the momentum established from the onset.
This completes the first step toward creating a loyal employee. Almost every new hire has high energy towards the company. Now, how do you keep that level of energy? By reading the book Lessons in Loyalty - How Southwest Airlines Does It, you will get many more ideas and tips on how to keep employees motivated throughout their career with your company.
Let us know if you’d like to have Lorraine contact you for advise, training or a keynote. Or maybe you just want to get a copy of her book for each of your managers and use to get a discussion started. Email Us about Lorraine or call 800-469-3560.
Summary of Life
Truths That Little Children Have Learned:
Pepsico - The Go Human Go Company – Focus on Work Life Balance
We were intrigued by this "change just one thing" approach in a world that values quick fixes and are thankful to the HR Department in Quaker Foods & Snacks for sharing their FAQ document with us:
Pepsico Organization Health Survey results show that employees across the Corporate division continue to face challenges in balancing their work and personal lives. So they implemented One Simple Thing, encouraging employees to focus on changing one aspect of their work to better achieve balance.
Q. How does the One Simple Thing initiative work?
A. One Simple Thing begins as a discussion between people managers and each of their direct reports. Every people manager should initiate a discussion with each direct report to identify one action that would help the employee improve his or her work-life balance. Once the manager and direct report have agreed on one action, One Simple Thing should live as a commitment made between both parties. It is the responsibility of both manager and direct report to monitor and discuss progress towards One Simple Thing goals throughout the year. Although one of the key benefits of implementing One Simple Thing is the fact that it affords individual flexibility to achieve work-life balance, in some cases it may make sense to adopt a common One Simple Thing goal for an entire team or department. In situations where there groups can agree upon a single action or set of actions that would improve the group's ability to achieve balance, an overall group-level One Simple Thing goal can be chosen.
Q. What constitutes an appropriate One Simple Thing goal?
A. An appropriate One Simple Thing goal is one that will enhance an associate's ability to manage his or her work and personal life. Keeping that in mind, there are a few guidelines. First, it is important to choose an action that is realistic for your role and set of responsibilities. For example, not all roles lend themselves to flexible schedules or remote work. It is important to choose a goal that is suitable considering your work or job requirements. Secondly, in order for your One Simple Thing to be successful, both you and your manager must have the resources and the ability to achieve your goal. Finally, your One Simple Thing must be appropriately aligned with HR guidelines. Selecting a One Simple Thing action that violates PepsiCo's policies or jeopardizes the productivity of your function or team would be inappropriate.
Q. Should my One Simple Thing Goal be reflected in my People Objectives?
A. Yes, you should include your One Simple Thing goal in your People Objectives. In doing so, you should follow the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines you followed in creating your other People Objectives to develop a One Simple Thing goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound. As you do with your People Objectives, you should review your One Simple Thing goal with your manager during your performance conversations to ensure progress against the goal and assess whether the goal has made an impact in your personal work/life balance.
Q. Is participation in the One Simple Thing initiative mandatory?
A. Yes, participation in the One Simple Thing initiative is mandatory for all Corporate associates. In addition, People Managers are encouraged to publicly communicate their personal One Simple Thing goals to demonstrate their commitment to the initiative and to serve as role models for their teams. If you already have a flexible agreement in place with your manager, your One Simple Thing may be simply to maintain that flexibility. If you are unable to identify a One Simple Thing action you'd like to adopt at this time, leave the doors of communication open so you can revisit the conversation with your manager if your needs change at a later time.
Q. What are some sample One Simple Thing goals?
A. Below is a list of some sample One Simple Thing goals. Remember- not all goals are appropriate for all roles in the organization. Have a conversation with your manager to determine which goals may be appropriate for your role or feel free to develop your own!
Team Building With a Charitable Bent
We wrote in a previous issue of RIR about a company that has teams put a bicycle together as a way to learn the team’s strengths and weaknesses. They then give the bicycle to a child in need in their community. Here are a few more possibilities to mix team building and community service:
Critical Pathfinders (95-401-9300, www.criticalpathfinders.com) offers VolunTeamBuilding programs including one called Pay It Forward, which gives groups a certain amount of money to do good deeds in their community, like buying toys for a hospital or making sandwiches for the homeless. The company is based in Ontario, but runs programs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Pricing ranges from $40 to $80 per person, and 10% of the cost is donated to a charity of the host company’s choosing.
Chico, California-based Odyssey Teams (800-342-1650, www.oddysseyteams.com) newest package, Helping Hands, allows participants to assemble prosthetic hands for children in developing countries. Each session includes icebreaking activities and motivational presentations led by the staff at Odyssey, who tailor their message to an organization’s purpose and goals. Groups can range in size from as few as 10 to as many as 10,000. The minimum program fee is $4,950 for the first 10 participants.
Recreation Picnic Service (973-992-7785, www.recreationpicnicservice.com) has a new program called Art4Charity that allows guests at a meeting or event to devote 30 minutes to 3 hours to creating a piece of art, like a tile mural, to be donated to a school, hospital, or other facility. Designs can include photos, a corporate name, and patterns in a paint-by-number format. The minimum cost (including supplies) is $550 for a group of 15 people; additional charges apply to events outside the New York City area.
Event planning and marketing company the Laureli Group (310-771-0660, www.laureligroup.com) has a division called Meetings That Give Back, which specializes in team-based community service projects for corporations. The company can put together outings such as a program to assemble (and donate) playthings for the nonprofit Many Mansions, which manages affordable housing for low-income families. As many as 150 participants may be involved, and pricing starts around $7,500; activities can be conducted worldwide.
City Hunt (877-486-8386, www.cityhunt.org) can create scavenger outings geared toward charitable organizations — say, a food pantry. After a discussion about the charity’s mission and needs, a minimum or 12 people break into teams and comb the city for clues that lead them to foods to help stock the pantry. Hunts typically last about 2 hours, and members take photos to document tasks, then return to the kitchen to present their finds and can even work out a plan to serve meals. An online photo diary can serve as a record of the excursion. City Hunt can customize outings and conduct them in the New York, Philadelphia, and Washington areas. Prices start at $85 per person.
Leadership Transitions Are Everywhere — Communication Is The Key to Retaining Employees
With the economic downturn on the minds of consumers, shareholders, and other corporate stakeholder groups. It’s important for companies to communicate stability.
Therefore, companies undergoing leadership transitions are increasingly using months-long introduction periods and a mix of traditional and social media outreach to show that the new CEO is the right person for the job.
Leo Apotheker officially took over as CEO of SAP in May. The German-based business software company worked with Burson-Marsteller using a yearlong co-CEO partnership, various events, and a combination of traditional and social media strategy to reassure stakeholders about its new leader, even during extraordinary economic circumstances.
"The advantage was that we had a full year to prepare for this. (Apotheker and former co-CEO Henning Kagermann) ran the show together for a year as co-CEOs", says Herbert Heitermann, SVP of global communications at SAP. "This was the first time (in introducing a CEO) that we made very active use of social media. That worked particularly well because he is a very outspoken executive, and you know the blogs love that more than anything."
Building a personality
The recession has also created a very anxious global workforce. "Once the new CEO is in that chair, it’s a good opportunity to have them listen to their constituents, specifically the workforce and the marketplace. Typically, one of the first opportunities for a new leader is face time with the workforce. That’s fundamental – we always counsel executives to do more listening than to try to articulate strategy and policy because that’s likely to change."
A company that has not switched CEOs in a number of years might also find that the media environment is drastically different than a few years prior, with many bloggers and social networking Web sites serving as key influencers. "There was also a much more aggressive effort to introduce the bloggers to Apotehker’s style and his vision so they would be comfortable with it," he says.
However, there are also a number of possible communications pitfalls during a transition period. While social media creates opportunities for companies to reach internal and external stakeholder groups, it also can result in information being quickly leaked to outside blogs and Web sites, says Paul Jensen, EVP and GM of Weber Sangwick’s New York office.
Excerpts from Prweekus.com July 2009
August 15-18, 2009
September 30-October 2, 2009
November 6-8, 2009
November 18-20, 2009
January 14-17, 2010
www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil has a list of hundreds of organizations that support the military. The Yellow Ribbon Fund is one such group and focuses on injured service members and their families.
PODCAST: MORE GREEN TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE OFFICE, http://www.Inc.com/keyword/jun08
EASY TO BE GREEN!
has great tips on green cleaning.
Going Green At Work
B.I.G. ON BOOKS is an organization that promotes literacy in underprivileged countries, primarily Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. You can donate books through most Rotary Clubs. B.I.G. also accepts cash donations. Send email to Steve Frantzich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kicking World Hunger is the biggest soccer juggle-a-thon in the world (uh, that we know of), much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! Participants sign up to juggle a soccer ball thousands of times while raising money to provide hope for children and communities that desperately need it. http://www.firstgiving.com/kickingworldhunger
Charity Navigator (http://charitynavigator.org) is an in-depth, searchable guide to more than 5,000 charities worldwide that aims to encourage "intelligent giving". They rate charities based on their total expenses, revenues, and organizational capacity. If you want to give, but the recent slew of charity scandals has you feeling skeptical about where your money would go.
Take Pride T-Shirts (http://www.takepride.com) was founded by a group of friends who all share the belief that the more difficult the mission facing our military, the more deserving they are of our thanks and support. Each unique shirt design provides a glimpse into the life of a different US Service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and is hand silk-screened. The message of the shirts isn’t political, it's about acknowledging, celebrating, and taking pride in the spirit of young Americans who despite facing an extremely difficult job and unpleasant conditions, nonetheless strive to do their job well. Take Pride gives at least 20% of profits to charities and causes that assist combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Set a reminder to visit http://www.thebreastcancersite.com daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms.
volunteermatch.org helps you
find organizations in your area that spark your interest in volunteering.
Old Cell Phones
Recycle PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs diskettes, etc., with GreenDisk. For $29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box. When it’s full, you download postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to workshops for the disabled and are refurbished. http://www.greendisk.comm
Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.
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