When Good Help is Hard to Find, WOW Cultures Win
Workplace culture matters. A great one produces happy, engaged employees who give their best efforts, challenge themselves to grow, and consistently meet goals and delight customers. A toxic one creates miserable, unmotivated clock-watchers and job-board checkers. In our booming economy, with its incredibly tight labor market, making sure your culture is closer to the first kind should be priority one, says Deb Boelkes.
WOW factor workplaces have
set of behavioral standards and performance expectations.
The bad news is that leaders often aren’t aware their culture isn’t what it should be. The good news is that they can change that. When leaders consistently motivate and inspire employees, fill them with purpose, challenge them, and make them feel safe and supported, what Boelkes calls the “WOW factor” manifests, grows, and permeates the entire culture.
Any type of company can create a “Best Place to Work” culture—also known as a WOW factor workplace. Here’s a checklist to help you get started.
In 2019, did you...
Hire slow and fire fast? When your company is made up of talented, enthusiastic, hardworking people, employees won’t want to leave. That’s why you should hire only people who will fit in with the culture you’re creating—and get rid of bullies and others who create a toxic culture.
“I love the simple yet effective mantra of Todd Wilcox, chairman of Patriot Defense: ‘No assholes, no idiots,’” says Boelkes.
Make adjustments and break things to make WOW happen? Adjustments are made all the time in WOW factor workplaces to make things even better than they already are. The adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is NOT the way WOW factor workplaces become WOW factor workplaces.
Encourage employees to interview elsewhere? Always be interviewing. While this applies to managers seeking the best possible job candidates, it also applies to employees. Everyone should interview elsewhere from time to time. This is one way to ensure neither the employee nor the business gets complacent.
“Likewise, organizations should be made aware if they are not keeping up with competitive marketplace opportunities,” says Boelkes. “You certainly don’t want to wait until your best team members have accepted another position elsewhere to finally offer them a raise or a promotion.”
Mentor in the moment? Mentoring should happen every single day, not just a few times a year during performance reviews. That’s why Todd Wilcox recommends that leaders should have a smaller number of direct reports—more like five or six instead of fifteen or twenty.
Hold people to high expectations? WOW factor workplaces have a well-documented set of behavioral standards and performance expectations. When someone isn’t meeting these expectations, leaders will collaborate with him or her to develop an improvement plan that spells out SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Time-bound).
Refuse to tolerate excuses? Some people hold themselves back. They may think they aren’t as good as others or as prepared as others to assume a leadership role.
“We were dirt-poor,” says Patriot Defense’s Todd Wilcox. “My mother qualified for food stamps and aid for dependent children, but she was adamant she would not do that. She put us to work as kids. It was self-determination. Take charge. Provide for yourself. Be accountable for the decisions you make. Those were things she taught us along the way.”
Help employees connect to purpose and meaning? Britt Berrett, former president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas (named one of the “Top 50 Best Places to Work in the State of Texas”), explains the value of purpose in healthcare: “When I get exhausted, I’ll go to the lobby. I’ll watch the patients walk in and out. If I, as a leader, can understand my role in blessing their lives, if it can give me purpose and meaning, then I’ll be much more purposeful in my efforts. That’s invigorating.”
Make them feel like they belong? Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, talks about fostering belonging. He says, “People feel like they belong here because we are doing things every day to help them be better. We help educate them. We help them deal with their stresses of life. I think what’s great is in our last employee opinion survey—with a 99 percent positive response globally—the number-one measure was: ‘At WD-40 Company, I’m treated with respect and dignity.’”
Regularly go beyond the expected to delight your customers? Donald Stamets, general manager for Solage, an Auberge resort in Calistoga, CA, allows employees to take the lead in this area with his Expected, Requested, and Delighted philosophy. For instance, if a guest is sick, employees can bring them tissues and chicken soup without asking a manager.
“You can always improve if your culture isn’t yet where you want it to be,” concludes Boelkes. “The year 2020 is a fresh start. Commit to start moving in a positive direction and build a culture that will make you and everyone on your team feel lucky to work for such a great organization.”
Deb Boelkes is the author of The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture. It is is available from major online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.businessworldrising.com.