There is no doubt that the success or failure of any company starts at the top. There’s a lot of pressure there.
The direct supervisor plays a key role in how engaged the workforce is. However, to truly create a great workplace, everyone must play a part, not just the leadership.
It is very easy for some organizations to rely or expect — essentially a sense of entitlement — that it is the leadership’s responsibility to provide success. I have thought about this quite often lately and it usually leads me back to one question: What is the employee’s role in making a company successful?
Bottom line: The employer and employee need to have a reciprocal relationship where both are invested in success.
Years ago, a friend of mine heard a group of employees talking negatively about where they worked. He did not think much about it until he read that the company was going out of business. Maybe the employees had nothing to do with it. Maybe they did.
I was recently in a small store and there was one person working. They were behind the counter and had their phone out, looking down instead of being attentive to customers. When my wife Rishy and I walked in, the person looked up and said, “Can I help you?” Even though it was our first time in the store, we said we are just looking.
“Let me know if you have questions,” she said, looking back at her phone.
We spent a few minutes looking around and walked out. If she would have come out from behind the counter and asked if this was our first time in the shop, it would have made a big difference. After we said yes, if she would have said, “Let me show you around” and explained things, or maybe asked us if we were looking for anything, etc., I bet we would have bought something. At minimum, we would have spoken highly of the store and gone back another time.
Owners pour their life savings and work into a business. However, a good workforce can make or break a company.
What are an employee’s responsibilities in work beyond showing up?
- Read. Communication is always a big “needs improvement” item on employee engagement surveys. I have seen leaders go to great lengths to create emails, newsletters and communication boards to make sure staff know what is going on. Here is the problem: Employees don’t take time to read them. They may even say they get too many emails to read. If employees just took as much time to read this information as they may do on social media, I bet communication would not be an issue when it comes to getting information.
- Know the company’s products and locations. In my columns, I write that a good leader takes time to know the employees. A good employee takes time to know the products and their locations. Ever shop and ask an employee to help find something? Some explain were to go, some point and some say let me take you there. Guess who creates the most sales?
- Be positive. Look for how you can make things better. Talk positive in the community about where you work. Encourage people to use our company’s products, shop at your place, etc.
- Don’t gossip. It is at times hard not to jump in the company’s gossip pool. Don’t go there. Remind your co-workers that passing gossip is both bad for them and the company. I am always amazed how the employees who most often complain about being short of help, seem to have the most time for gossiping.
- Don’t fall into the victim trap. Take control of your own work performance and be the best you can be.
- If you are not happy, take steps to leave. In a tough job market, this may be hard. We are not in a robust job market. Don’t saddle your coworkers, your customers and you family with your unhappiness. I ran across a company that when it was obvious an employee was unhappy, they gave them a day off with pay to find another job. The deal was if you can’t find a job better than this one, then come back with a different attitude. It did not cause others to be unhappy to get a day off. The opposite: it sent the message that if you are not happy here, it’s better if you move on.
While the leader and company must do all they can to create a culture in which an employee can be engaged, it is ultimately up the employee to take ownership of their own morale.
Quint Studer is the founder of the Studer Community Institute and a successful business leader, speaker and author. He is also the entrepreneur in residence at the University of West Florida.
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