Are your employees actually working for you?
A speaker I heard recently told a story about two railroad men, Joe and Burt, putting spikes in for a new rail line when along came an elegant railroad car carrying the company bigwigs. All of a sudden a voice called out, “Joe!” and the train stopped. A man jumped down and hugged Joe and they had a wonderful visit. Joe and the man had started working for the railroad in the same kind of job, on the same day, many years before. After the brief encounter, when the train pulled away, Burt asked Joe, “So how come you two started working on the same day, on the same kind of job, and now he’s the president and you’re still putting in spikes?” Joe replied, “Because I joined the railroad to work for $1.65 an hour, and he joined to work for the railroad.”
Any business looking to hire new employees needs to be sure that the candidates want to work for the business, not just for the money. With the competition in today’s employment marketplace, companies have to look for the superstars they need. They can’t be timid in their search. In fact, their new superstar could be one of their existing clients just waiting for a chance to change careers.
Some years ago a really good client of ours retired from his position. After about three months of retirement he showed up at our front counter asking if we needed help. It seems he always thought our business looked like fun (he was right) and he told us that his wife didn’t want him home for lunch every day, so he thought he might take a stab at a new career. We hired him on the spot and Dr. Dick stayed with us for the next 10 years. Not only did he manage our production team, he played a big role in our company’s training program by teaching new team members that everyone does everything in our place, including clean up, and he demonstrated it by wielding a mean broom when necessary.
Quality people like to work with other quality people. People who work for the business show their enthusiasm and devotion. They cater to customers by doing more than promised. They love to make customers happy. They take pride in their work, going above and beyond to create excellence that they can sign their names to. Employees who work for the business look for ways to make the business better because they know their efforts and dedication will come back to them many times over in commensurate pay, recognition, and appreciation. Employees who work for the business make the business a good place to work.
I asked a human resource expert what managers can do to encourage employees to work for the business rather than the money. Here are some suggestions he provided:
- Cultivate enjoyment in the workplace. When work is fun employees are more productive. Create an environment that encourages team members to take pleasure and pride in what they do.
- Use praise freely. Don’t be afraid to let someone know they’re doing a good job. Praise is a powerful tool, and people love it when good work is noticed and appreciated.
- Show your belief in your employees.
- Empower team members so they have accountability and authority, and trust them.
- Set achievable goals and celebrate when they are reached.
- Ask employees for suggestions — and keep promises.
Sydney J. Harris, an American author and journalist for the Chicago Sun Times, said, “Few men ever drop dead from overwork, but many quietly curl up and die because of under-satisfaction.” Employees who are satisfied will enjoy working for the business.
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