Use this trick to avoid casual dress code missteps
Yikes! What is that person wearing? If your employees have taken casual attire to the extreme, try this tip an employee shared with Motivational Manager: Create your own style guide of what not to wear. Ask for volunteers to participate in a photo shoot wearing all the office no-nos—torn jeans, short shorts, halter tops, flip-flops. Copy the photos onto posters, flyers, or into a booklet—complete with the black bars fashion magazines use to conceal the faces of the style-challenged—and distribute them to the staff.
Bring employees to the ‘table of satisfaction’
Diane Marinacci manages 10 workers in her division of the General Services Administration. And according to the Gallup Organization’s “employee engagement survey,” those are 10 happy workers. Why? Marinacci credits her roundtable. Each morning, her employees meet at the table to talk about their caseloads, and they gather at the table when there’s an important issue to discuss. “More work is done at that roundtable during the day than could ever
happen in a cubicle,” she says. “I tell my friends, if you’re a boss, you need to get a round table.”
—Adapted from “Their best friend at work,” by Jennifer Robison, in the Gallup Management Journal
Go on the offensive for tech recruits
Having trouble attracting talented IT workers? Try going on the offensive—to your local bookstore. One New Jersey recruiter periodically stops by the software aisle at her local bookstore armed with a stack of business cards. She distributes the cards to the young tech enthusiasts who come in to flip through the latest manuals—and even hides some of her cards in the pages of the most popular books.
—Adapted from Finding & Keeping Great Employees, by Jim Harris and Joan Brannick (AMACOM)
Focus on fit with this hiring tactic
Taking a thorough tour of the facility is a staple of the new-employee orientation. But Doug Player, a New Jersey distribution center operations manager, suggests hirers take job candidates on a tour of the facility before making a final decision. “We cannot underestimate the value of walking through our facility with a potential staffer,” Player says, “and the dialogue—both spoken and unspoken—that ensues when they see where they will be spending their workday.”
—Adapted from “Make a sure bet on the right people,” by Sara Pearson Specter, in Modern Materials Handling
Pitch in to help workers
If teaming up for charity builds camaraderie, think how satisfying it would be to help one of your own. Paul and Sharon Algee never told coworkers at North Carolina’s Riverboat Landing Restaurant that they needed help paying for their daughter’s rehabilitation after a car crash. But seeing their predicament, their bosses organized a benefit dinner on their behalf. Management donated the evening’s profits, employees donated their tips, and even former employees came back to help. When you see employees in difficult circumstances, don’t wait to be asked—pitch in.
d from “Restaurant comes to aid of employee’s sick child,” by Rachel Wimberly, in the Star-News(Wilmington, N.C.)
Manage mergers by buddying up
If your organization is facing a merger, help employees cope by adopting the strategy Wal-Mart used when the company purchased the British supermarket chain Asda. Executives helped Asda managers and supervisors adapt to the Wal-Mart culture by using the buddy system and pairing them with a Wal-Mart colleague. The buddies were encouraged to share ideas and discuss concerns, which helped them manage change through the crucial transition period.
—Adapted from “Putting a smile on staff faces at Asda,” in the Daily Express (London)
Beat stress with a breakroom makeover
Things can get stressful at a call center—which is one reason for the industry’s high turnover. But the Australian firm SalesForce is always looking for new ways to help its staff break the tension. Recently, the company imitated the British television series Changing Rooms (and its American counterpart Trading Spaces) by challenging employees to redecorate staff lounges. Teams were given a budget and eight weeks to complete their projects. The winners received prizes—and SalesForce added to its stature as one of the country’s top places to work.
—Adapted from “To succeed, make the first call to the staff,” by Wendy Taylor, in The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
Push on when brainstorming
Remember your last brainstorming session? No doubt you reached a point where the flood of ideas became a trickle, then seemed to dry up altogether. And the session came to a stop. Big mistake. Instead of taking the first lull as a signal to stop, press on. When they’ve run out of logical ideas, people will start offering wild suggestions—which may prove to be the seeds of your most creative projects.
—Adapted from Ignite Your Creative Spark, by Jordan Ayan (Successories)
You get what you reward
What’s more important—launching new initiatives or launching successful initiatives? If you said the latter, then you have to build accountability into your incentive programs. In 2000, Procter & Gamble suddenly realized morale was in ruins and core products were losing market share. Among the problems cited by employee surveys was a policy of rewarding and promoting marketing employees based on the number of initiatives they launched with no thought for long-term results. And because job tenure averaged two years, employees knew they could launch an initiative, then leave the worries to their successor. Thanks to those findings, P&G now keeps marketers in their posts for three to four years and focuses on two-year rather than quarterly results.
—Adapted from “Listening begins at home,” in the Harvard Business Review
Careless comments can be costly
Admit it—there are some crazy people on your staff. But here’s some sane advice: Keep your opinions about their mental health to yourself. Recently the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a disability discrimination claim because the employee had evidence her supervisors considered her disabled. The evidence: workplace gossip. The problem started when one employee falsely reported that another was suicidal. As rumors of instability escalated, the talked-about employee incurred disciplinary action, sought counseling for stress, and took a disability leave. Her supervisors refused to accommodate her request for a reduced schedule and soon fired her. The court agreed the employee did not meet the ADA’s definition of disabled. However, under the ADA an employee is still considered disabled if it can be shown that the employer believes an impairment exists. In this case, the rumor mill provided ample proof of that.
—Adapted from “But we thought she was crazy!” in the Wyoming Employment Law Letter
How to keep your staff up-to-date on business trends
Inspire employees to keep up with the latest business trends and beef up their presentation skills by following this advice from a New Jersey public relations firm: Ask for volunteers to read business books then present oral reports to their coworkers during your weekly staff meetings. The PR firm lets workers select the titles they’d like to read, then pays for the books.
—Adapted from 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, by Bob Nelson (Workman)
Boost productivity and job satisfaction with this tactic
Some employees do their best work in the morning, while others are more productive in the afternoon. So, if your operations allow, take advantage of internal body clocks with staggered start times. Rather than requiring everyone to come in at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m., give workers the option of working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A little flexibil-ity can cut down on absenteeism and ensure that people are working during their personal peak hours.
—Adapted from the Birmingham Times (Birmingham, Ala.)
Brace yourself for termination anxiety
It’s natural to expect an emotional fallout when an employee is terminated. But dismissed workers don’t hold the monopoly on separation anxiety. Terminations are also difficult for managers who must deliver the bad news. If you’re contemplating a termination or layoff, list the reasons behind the decision to reassure yourself that this course is appropriate. Then consider the possible reactions of the employee—shock, anger, fear—and determine how you’ll react to any given scenario. If you’re well prepared to handle the employee’s emotions, you’ll be better able to handle your own.
—Adapted from “Successful termination: Is there such a concept?” by John Withenshaw, in Canadian Manager
Comprehensive training boosts retention
One thing management at Hy-Vee, an Iowa-based grocery chain, could count on: As soon as they graduated, college-age employees would leave for a “real job.” But two years ago, the chain launched a program to stem turnover and groom future managers from within—the Hy-Vee University Graduate Degree program, Twice each year, 10–15 students enroll in the year-and-a-half phased training program. Trainees begin by spending time in the corporate office learning about a specific department. Then they complete workbook projects and make field trips to area stores. Finally, they spend a few months interning in the recently studied department. Comprehensive training focused on each department gives workers an all-encompassing perspective that inspires long-term career ambitions. And according to Hy-Vee executives, retention among its university grads is about 90 percent.
—Adapted from “Help wanted: How to reduce employee turnover,” by Rebecca Zimoch, in Grocery Headquarters
Give employees a helping hand
What better to give workers than a piece of yourself? In this case, your helping hand. At one company, a manager annually gives every employee on his staff a paper silhouette of his hand, which represents one hour of his time to use any way they want. They can ask for work-related help—taking over the switchboard or delivering the mail—or even call on the boss for baby-sitting, dog-walking, or lawn-mowing duty.
—Adapted from CARE Packages for the Workplace, by Barbara A. Glanz (McGraw-Hill)
Enjoy a blast from the past
Some managers have found a way to make themselves less intimidating to employees: geek photos. Dig out your school photos or yearbook and grace your office wall with an unflattering pose that will make you seem more human to your staff—and might boost your ego as well. Says one CEO: “Whenever I’m feeling down about my work, I just take a good look at that dork up on the wall and I think to myself, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby! Don’t stop now!’”
—Adapted from Managing to Have Fun, by Matt Weinstein (Simon & Schuster)
Help workers understand their purpose
If you haven’t thought about job descriptions since your last new hire, your employees probably haven’t given them much thought either. Meet individually with workers to discuss their responsibilities and the tasks they do each day. Then craft an appropriate job description for each position. Give each employee a copy of his or her description and keep copies in your files so you can refer to them as needed. Update the descriptions at least once a year and invite workers to suggest changes as their duties evolve.
—Adapted from “Happy employees bring big profits,” by Harvey Goldglantz, in Pest Control