Back when I lived in Chicago, I had the pleasure of working with a really grounded and wise CFO. He was an “old dog” with a CV many would envy. During one of our conversations about work environments, he said something that stuck with me: “companies that get unions deserve them”. If you treat your people fairly, invest in them, and genuinely care about their future, no union or union mentality has any reason to exist in your company. So how do we make sure our employees are working for and not against us?
- Shared pain & shared gain. The alarms are already sounding about an impending firestorm of talent defections. Retention is going to be hell for a large number of organizations that immediately turned to their employees when they needed to cut costs. Too late for them. But how can you ensure you survive the next up- and down-swings? Profit sharing is one of the best components of total compensation, and companies who adopt this strategy across the board retain and attract the best people. When the bad times strike, you can reduce or even eliminate the need for downsizing by sharing the pain across the board.
- Keep an organization as flat as possible for as long as possible. Nobody needs dozens of VPs, when you have 30-40 employees (or even 100+). Doers are the best leaders because of their credibility. Red tape, meetings, hierarchy, and other org chart growing elements of an organization rarely improve efficiency. I don’t know about you, but I have a very high level of respect for the execs who pound the streets with the rest of their team.
- You don’t have to be a mom or dad to your employees, but you do have to remember that you can improve an individual’s performance and value by helping them solve their problems. Example: if their spouse is also working and your employee has to worry about daycare, why not allow them to have a flexible schedule? If you help them get the problem off their shoulders, they will in invest that mental energy into their work.
- Build a culture of constant growth. As a company grows, so should every member of your team (and if they don’t want to, then get someone who does). Nothing drives a successful team more up the wall than a couple of mediocre members. Some of the big consulting companies have a good policy – up or out!
Photo credit: Kymberly Janisch