Monday, April 9, 2012

Empowering thoughts

People start their own business for a number of reasons -- some to follow a passion, some always dreamed of being their own boss, while others were in search of flexibility that they didn’t find in larger organizations. Those who grow beyond solo entrepreneurship will quickly find out that getting the right people on the bus is even more important when you’re driving a small scale version. When on-boarding a new employee, consider this:
“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” (Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why.)
Ensuring that you find people who believe what you believe requires that you have a clearly defined vision [see this earlier post]. You also need to choose those who are able to multi-task and not worry so much about staying in the confines of their role, and to “jump out of their seat” when needed. To see what a fully-engaged employee looks like, check out Jeff Haden's 8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees.

A recent ad for Dominos Pizza highlights a Finley, Ohio-based employee who came up with a new product idea that didn’t start in the corporate test kitchen. The ad is a celebration of a large organization  letting someone think outside of his role and come up with a value-added product. Unfortunately, this same company had another employee who thought it funny to post a YouTube video of them “modifying” the toppings on a sub.)

Managing in the digital age calls for thinking outside of normal business hours. IBM is on the forefront of allowing employees to use new technologies as brand ambassadors, as long as they first think of their day-job. While some companies have policies forbidding employees to identify themselves as employees when using social media, IBM encourages employees to maintain dialogues and blog about the workplace if they like, but within certain constraints. They mainly need to keep the company’s core values in mind, add value, and be clear that what they are blogging about is their own opinion, not necessarily those of management. The range of social media practices is a reflection of a management’s comfort zone with the medium.

Do managers of smaller companies have an advantage as they have less wandering around to do? Certainly -- no need to log miles on a corporate campus to see what’s going on and keep tabs on their great/remarkable employees.
  • How do you get the right people on the bus and in the right seats?
  • How do you get them fully engaged in what they are doing?
  • Do you have policies and processes in place to be sure that the ones who are engaged will be good ambassadors for your company? Or, if they happen to be unhappy, a policy or process that will help put limits on any liabilities?

Jeff Haden’s observation is on point:
Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to… but because they just can't help it.

What are your employees doing?

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