of a High Performance Workplace
few years ago, it was rare to see any press on the companies
regarded as the best places to work. Now there are national,
state and local contests with organizations of all sizes and in
a variety of industries clamoring for the acclaimed prize to be
named to the list of best places to work. These awards now
cross all lines and separate awards are given for companies with
the friendliest workplaces for women, minorities, people over the
age of 50, large organizations and small companies.
most common thread of all of the companies that win these awards
is their ability to be profitable over the long haul. The
profits don’t necessarily come as a result of a superior
business model. They come more as a result of developing
and sustaining a culture that values its employees. Looking
at the winners of these awards it is apparent that there are many
similarities in the way they work with their employees. If
you look at these workplaces, you will probably find many, if not
all, of the following characteristics.
The first and most critical trait is trust. Employees must
be able to trust their boss and top management to do what is right
for the organization. Proper communication is key to gaining
trust. Conversely, a lack of communication breaks down the
level of trust. Without trust, the foundation of the workplace
is full of cracks and holes.
Since employees are well trained and trusted to do their jobs,
there is no need for micro managing. All of the people
with the organization know what is expected of them and they
do their work without being told what to do, when to do it and
how to do it. Micromanagers are quickly weeded out of
the company. The culture of the total organization is stronger
than any individual.
The Truth be Told
The culture of the organization is one of honesty and integrity
in all dealings with co-workers and customers. There is
no posturing nor are there positive spins placed on not so positive
issues. The high performance organization understands
that people work best when they know what the future holds – good
few years ago, a local company president (for a business that
will remain nameless) publicly announced that there would be
no lay offs in the foreseeable future. Two weeks later 25% of
the employees were given their walking papers. The fact that
people lost jobs is bad enough, but think about how the 75% of
those who remained employed felt about their leadership. Any
semblance of trust was gone because the president told the employees
what he thought they wanted to hear instead of the truth.
New employees are welcomed with open arms. Having made it
through the hiring process is enough for the new person to be recognized
as member of the organization. There is no such thing as “doing
one’s time” or “paying one’s dues” before
being accepted. It is understood by all that the new employee
has the necessary experience, knowledge, skill and behavioral traits
to do an outstanding job. New employees are supported from
the first day on the job.
Everybody’s Job is Everybody’s
By this it means that the teamwork in the organization is incredible. All
the employees in the organization are moving in the same direction
and for a common goal. The support from all levels of the
organization is a natural by product regardless of rank or seniority. The
executives of the company can be seen helping the shipping clerks
at the end of the quarter to ensure that all of the products get
out on time. In this scenario, the shipping clerks are responsible
for the work of the executives – not the other way around. On
top of this, the shipping clerks are comfortable with the executives
working with and for them.
Diversity Just Happens
The high performance organization is not interested in what a person
looks like or where they were born. The only important
factor is what contributions the individual will make. Because
of this, the high performance workplace is constantly looking
for the best people - period.
Employment Candidates Find Them
One of the biggest obstacles to the future of business today is
the increasing difficulty in finding good employees. The
high performance workplace has potential people seeking them
out. In the airline business, who would you rather work
for, Delta, United, American, Continental or Southwest? The
answer here is pretty simple and Southwest Airlines has a data
base of over 40,000 resumes of people who are interested in working
for them. Companies that have been awarded as one of the
best places to work report an increased interest in candidates
wanting to work for their company. Companies that are not
recognized as a great place to work have more difficulty recruiting
and retaining good employees.
Gossip is Gone
The grapevine dies if it is not fed. In the high performance
workplace, there is little, if anything, to talk about or question. Since
the communications are so good, there is very little left to the
imagination of the employees. Less time is wasted talking
about subjects of little or no importance. The nattering
nabobs of negativity (See The McKenzie Mailer of May, 2005) will
very quickly learn that gossip is not condoned by anyone.
High performance workplaces experience very low turnover. This
means the company is properly staffed and no one has to work extra
to make up for the people who keep quitting. Often when someone
leaves a company, they take their knowledge, relationships and
expertise with them. This is virtually impossible to replace.
Therefore, the high performing workplace that experiences less
turnover is able to sustain the level of performance over an extended
period of time.
The economy, marketplace and customer expectations are changing
continuously and the demands placed on employees is increasing. The
high performance workplace understands this and invests heavily
in ensuring that its employees have the most up to date knowledge
possible to better serve its stakeholders.
Better Bottom Line
As stated earlier, the bottom line of high performance workplaces
is higher than competitors because they have been able to engage
their employees in the entire business model. Employees
are aware of their contributions and expectations and since the
communication is never ending, when the going gets tough, the
workforce gets tougher.
company cultures were not made overnight. It is a long and involved process. The
Best Places to Work have a value structure in place that drives the
culture. Even if you are not in a high level position in your company,
you can have a very positive influence on your work environment. Only
you can control your emotions and behaviors.