You cannot have happy customers without happy associates.The real value in a company is created at the interface between the associate and the customer. Here are some best practices for creating and keeping happy associates.
The best way to learn what is on the minds of the associates is to listen to them. I recommend one on one meetings, asking for feedback from small groups, and formal town hall meetings. One sure-fire question that always keeps my conversations going: “what else is new?”. That question never fails to keep them talking about what is important to them.
Imagine coming home from work and your wife is waiting for you with a letter in her hand. She’s glowing. Your company selected you as the associate of the quarter, and informed you by sending a letter to your home. This is one of the best practices I’ve seen for recognizing excellence.
Admit when you are wrong
A couple of months ago I rolled out program that improved results, but really upset the associates. Don’t let your ego cost you the support of your team. Chances are, there are better ideas that can get you results without sacrificing associate morale.
Measure your progress
I’m a big fan of associate satisfaction surveys. Some companies achieve this from 360 degree reviews. Others, like mine, survey the associates regularly. These surveys give me the most poignant and constructive feedback, and the scores track your progress.
Encourage Servant Leadership
Perhaps the only way I wish business were more like politics. Leaders should serve the led. Flip the org chart and recognize that the customer-facing associates need our support.