A minor miracle happened last week. An email that wasn’t from a client or colleague caught my attention and enticed me to open it – incredible I know. The email was for a fairly fascinating article from Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, with the headline, “Employee Satisfaction Doesn’t Matter.” Although Gallup is famous for its accurate surveys, in my opinion, this one slightly missed the mark.
I encourage you to read the article, but his premise is that employee satisfaction has no bearing on the success of a business. Giving people fun perks like a pool table in the office or free drinks on Friday sounds great, but ultimately has little bearing on their performance. In fact, it may be counterproductive. Instead, Clifton writes that, “Employees don’t want to be “satisfied” as much as they want to be engaged. What they want most is a great boss who cares about their development, and a company that focuses on and develops their strengths.”
Where I think Clifton slightly misses the mark is that he places the onus on companies to figure out ways to inspire employees. Instead, companies who have unique, inspiring and actionable corporate values will find employees who come to work already engaged and inspired to do their best. These companies will be better equipped to hire people who have the skills and personality the company requires to succeed. And current employees who aren’t a good fit will more than likely look for a better fit somewhere else or focus on ways they can change to match the values and culture.
In fact, we often have clients come to us and say something about their culture just isn’t right. Too many mistakes are being made, deadlines are being missed, morale is low, etc. We often undertake a Values Program to help solve the issues and drive the desired results. Patrick Strother defined how “Values Drive Behavior and Behavior Drives Results” a few years ago, but the concept is timeless. Today I wanted to share four keys to successfully implementing a values-based program:
- In order to be authentic, values should be developed by a cross-section of employees. If they’re chiseled out at the C-level suite and come down from the mountaintop you won’t get the buy-in required to drive success. Instead, collect a group of your best performers, with varying levels of tenure and responsibility, to develop the values.
- Values must be unique to your company. Forget generic values like “honesty” or “trustworthy.” Those should be a given and could be slapped on any type of business, from a dentist office to a soap factory. Patrick likes to give the example of how GE made “speed” a core value. Once everyone understands that speed is important, it won’t take six months for decisions to be made.
- Once developed, values must be ingrained in every facet of your business.They should impact everything from hiring practices, to employee reviews, to employee recognition program and how the company interacts with customers and business partners. For example, in the example of “speed” being a value, you can ask job candidates what steps they’ve taken to make themselves more efficient. During performance reviews, employees should be evaluated on what contributions they’ve made to make teams function better.
- Communication is critical. If the values will simply be hung on a wall in the conference room and otherwise ignored, they are useless. They should be integrated into every aspect of your brand and messaging. Your website should reflect the values. Your newsletters should include stories on how individuals or teams are driving results through the values. Recognition programs should have a tie to the values.
These are a few of the key steps to developing a value-based culture, which inspires and engages employees. At SCG, our values are knowledge, creativity, putting others first, collegiality, mentoring and partnership. We try to live them every day, and they have been the key to our success. If you’d like to learn more about this concept, drop me a line.