Saturday November 3, 2012
One thing I learned in my first HR Management role at Philip Crosby Associates is that there are all kinds of things that employers can do to improve quality…for free. Over time, I realized that the same can be said about morale, alignment, engagement, and culture. Too many employers don’t get this.
If you want a workforce of passionate employees who share your values, get your mission, and see your vision, you have to be willing to be inclusive and share information and decisions with them to help them buy into the big picture. Business leaders don’t like being blind-sighted. Neither do employees.
There are some items – such as employee relations matters – that must be kept confidential. But the vast majority of things that business leaders and HR departments keep from employees only work against efforts to build a culture that rocks, where great employees thrive. Here are some reasons that employers are not inclusive and why those fears are bogus:
- Employees don’t really need to know the business realities; they just need to come in and do their job. That works if all you want are entitled employees who watch the clock.
- Employees don’t really care about business realities as long as they get a paycheck. Says who? Great employees love a big picture they can get passionate about. They invest their lives in their jobs for more than just a paycheck and will care about the organization if you include them.
- Employees may not be able to handle the bad news. Withholding information about business realities in the information age is… well, naïve at best. Employees find things out anyway, and they talk anyway. And in a dearth of information, the vacuum fosters assumptions that are usually way worse than reality.
- Employees may leave if they know what the organization is up against. Employers that have developed the right kind of culture have found that their employees can weather any kind of storm as long as they are included and treated like big girls and boys. Leaving them in the dark makes them feel like a mushroom.
- Some employers have tried to include employees in the decision making process, and have gotten an Unfair Labor Practice from the Department of Labor for operating an “Employer Dominated Union.” There are ways around this. Outside help may be necessary, but it can be structured in a way that gives plenty of room to operate in.
When you include employees, you can increase quality, morale, engagement, alignment, and culture. You can reduce costs, identify missing revenues, eliminate what Phil Crosby called “hassles,” and improve productivity, all by including the people in the trenches who know the jobs , the customers, the suppliers, and the employees the best. Informal leaders can become your champions, helping you overcome obstacles, achieve your mission, and realize your vision. They will not only understand and appreciate business realities, they will have your back and work together for a cause and a boss they believe in. And it costs nothing.