Preach and Practice

The message had been clear all during the seminars the company was broadcasting to its franchisees. If they wanted to keep their employees during and after the current recessionary times, they needed to make them feel needed, wanted, and special. Many of the franchisees understood the message, and shared that they were doing just that. They were engaging in one-on-one conversations with their employees, writing notes of appreciation, and doing what they could to keep the spirits up of the employees, either in person or remotely.

What’s more than that, it seemed to be working well. The leadership of the company were receiving positive reviews for both the seminars and the message that was being broadcast. The franchisees were not losing their employees to the competition even when their commissions were lower due to lower sales.

There was only one group who wasn’t practicing these techniques. The leadership of the company itself. Yes, they were regularly sending out an email or having a team web conference and saying how proud they were of the corporate employees, who were working extra hours at reduced pay to keep all these seminar and other events going. However, as for any of the other techniques the company was advocating its franchisee base do, the actions of the company’s leadership was lacking.

Not one employee could say that the leadership had singled them out for an individual email, phone call or personal note expressing their gratitude for the crippling workload, or managing a household budget with a reduced salary, or for getting all their work done when their hours had been reduced. True, their local managers, mostly, had thanked them for their hard work and said they appreciated their extra work. Some of the local management had even said for the employee to take a day off and not declare it as a thank you for the extra time put in. But the senior leadership? Except for the obligatory ‘thank you’ at a company meeting, nothing more seemed to come from their collective creativity to make the employees feel wanted, needed, or appreciated.

As the weeks of onerous hours and little pay wore on, so did nerves, and they were fraying fast. That seemed to be little noticed by leadership, which was always asking for more, expecting more, and even criticizing more when mistakes happened.

A simple fact of life that seems to escape many leaders is that it takes a happy staff to make happy customers. How do you make staff happy? Besides money, most want to be appreciated in some meaningful way. That is not a passing, “Thank you so much” in a company meeting. It is something done for the the employees on a personal level. It is a recognition that the employee has sacrificed part of their lives to make the customer happy. A good leader will understand that and take the time to reach out to the employee to make sure that appreciation is expressed in a why the employee will find special.

The gap between words and action is amplified when you are giving one message to others and then not putting actions to that message yourself. Your message becomes disingenuous when you are not following it yourself. That leads to your employees wondering why they should continue their Herculean efforts when their leaders can’t be bothered to recognize that effort beyond a few measly words said to everyone.

Simply put, when you don’t make an effort to value your employees, what is there to entice your employees to value you or your business?

Make the effort, put in the time, and make the recognition personal. When you do, you’ll see all the words you are throwing at others can actually work for you, too.

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