How To Get Employees To CARE… Culture Leadership

Get Employees to Care

How do you get employees to care? Culture Leadership. Recently, my wife and I had a discussion about several negative experiences we’ve had with different companies. In each case, the employees clearly, just didn’t care.  One employee actually told us that it was her last day and she couldn’t “think of a worse place to work.”  Was it the fault of the business, management, employee or all of the above?  Or, did our experience have to do with culture leadership styles? We came to realize that it doesn’t matter what the age, gender or job is, far too many employees are unhappy where they work. And after all, do you really expect employees to CARE about the customer’s experience; if they’re consistently unhappy in the workplace? Consider this, as bad as the job market is today, industry experts suggest as many as 70% of people who have jobs are dissatisfied and seeking to change.  Recently, Gallup reported that “67% of all customers leave a business because of a disgruntled employee.” Additionally, too often, employers are oblivious to their role when an employee fails to meet expectations.

Get Employees to Care by Working “On” Your Business

I wanted to understand how others felt, so I posted the question “How do you get employees to CARE?” on eight LinkedIn discussion groups. I received hundreds of responses. Here’s a sample of them that shared recurring themes:

Dr. Brian Monger, CEO MAANZ International/CMD Melbourne Area, Australia replied, “too busy ‘Doing it’ to be good managers.” I agreed, and replied thatWhen people spend 98% of their time working “in” their business, there is little time to work “on” their business.”

Thu On, Senior Operations Analyst at Tiffany & Co., New York City posted, “I strongly suspect that the work environment isn’t aligned with corporate values. Otherwise, who wouldn’t care?”

Sylvia Stanley, Director at Quantum Vision, Mauritius said, “Employees need to know that they are making a contribution, they must feel valued.”

Jonathon Washington, at Fitness Keys, Chicago says, “If more people were passionate about their jobs and owners treated employees like people, gave them a good salary and understood the work better, any business would run a lot smoother!”

Lucy English, Senior Consultant at Horizons Workforce Consulting, St. Louis, suggests, “Giving employees something they can make a meaningful connection with allows them to care. Unfortunately,   many leaders and managers cannot describe the mission or purpose of their own organization.”

Alexia Vernon, author of 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance believes that it comes down to missed or unrealistic expectations. Suggesting that “supervisors and managers need to discuss with new workers, early on, about their responsibilities and the ways in which they will be held accountable.”

Peter Burchard, Thought Kindler, Improvement Expert, from Chicago says, “senior management has the responsibility to create work that is meaningful and challenging.”

Leadership Psychologist, Kylie Prince with Developing AuthenticCharisma™ in Melbourne, Australia says, “It’s not rocket science; employees who feel cared for, treat customers better, work more efficiently and therefore business improves. Too Many organizations waste a lot of money trying to get employees to CARE; by giving employees what they think they want;  a very bad assumption.”

“Show them you care,” from Stephen Atamanchuk CSP, Human Resource Business Partner, Greater Boston Area.

Many great comments overall, and while a few came close, several missed the mark. For sustainable change, I believe that you get employees to CARE by encouraging a strong, positive culture. Too many organizations have leaders that although well-intended, have environments that are characterized by confusion, fear, selfishness, dishonesty or lack of appreciation.

I could not agree more with Erica Anderson, whose article, “Great Workplaces Arise From Great Leaders,” in the September 12 issue of Forbes Magazine, writes, A leader’s passion, wisdom and generosity support the creation of a great workplace. When leaders are both deeply committed and open to alternatives – truly passionate – it invites everyone to be passionate in response – and the workplace comes alive” Anderson goes on to say that, When leaders tell the truth and deliver on their commitments (or say why they can’t and what they’ll do instead), it creates an environment that feels solid and reliable, one where people don’t have to retreat into self-protectiveness.”

So if you’re an employer not happy about the culture that exists in your organization – tag, you’re it. It’s up to you to change the environment. Connect the dots and start by becoming the best leader you can be. It’s not too late to improve your skills and take your business to the next level with a major renovation of your organization’s culture.

You’re welcome to “share” this and, please tell us what your take is, in the comment section below…

If you liked this blog, you’ll (also) enjoy an earlier blog, “Diary of a Small Business With Problems,” CLICK HERE. 

About Alan

Alan Adler is an executive coach, speaker & author.

16. September 2012 by Alan
Categories: Business leadership, Customer Experience, Human Resources, Marketing, Non-profit, Recruitment & Re, Social Media/Busines, Uncategorized | 22 comments

Comments (22)

  1. I find most successful people are happy with their job and life. It is easy to measure success in revenue generating positions but not in non-revenue producing jobs. My experience is that less than 5% of revenue generating applicants should get hired. It costs as much as $300,000 to get them adequately trained. Less than 20% of these people will become successful,
    Effective assessments, background checks, multiple interviews, and employee ownership opportunities will help you build a successful organization with mimimal numbers of disgruntled, poorly educated, entitlement mentality individuals who are filling up the world. If you don’t apply the same standards to your non revenue generating staff your revenue generating staff will leave you.

    • @Chuck, Thanks for the comment. I agree and advocate what best-selling author Jim Collins says, “You have to have the right people on the bus!”

      • Thanks for sharing the blog. Interesting discussions….working in HR for many years in the global setting, “employees are employees”, it does not matter if the business is in an underdeveloped country, developing country or developed country, employees want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected at the workplace. I find that full engagement by Supervisors/Managers with employees, letting them know the direction of the company, share knowledge of the position of the business, how important they are in the business and how each role fits in the mix of the business with regards to the success of the company and benefits they will derive.

        In addition, if employees feel protected in disclosing feedback on the department as well as leaders without being chastised and they have trusted the system in resolving issues, they will help to make the workplace a better place, ultimately enjoy working with the company.

        I have read “Good to Great” and have practiced this concept with hiring but even if employee is in the right seat on the right bus and culture is not right, the employee can hate the job and the company.

        • Wonderful comments, Janet, thank you. I believe in my heart of hearts that CULTURE eats every other business function, for lunch! Now how do we get others to connect the dots? BTW, Jim Collins has also been my guru for many years. Happy to share.

  2. It’s not only the fault of the workplace that people don’t care – it’s the fault of our society. In addition to workplaces, look at churches and families. The “Me” generation is so far advanced that we don’t even call this the “Me” generation any more. If you want to make a difference then start caring for others now. You can make a difference.

    • @James Reed: I totally agree that people can make a difference. You are spot on, James. However don’t you think there are too many people claiming to be a victim of our “culture of excuses.” Think about how it would be if people practiced “The Golden Rule” (TGR) we all grew up. We’d be so much better off. TGR is simply NOT practiced or thought about much. So, one of my contributuions to “make a difference, is to give the old TGR concept new traction. “Be nicer than you have to be!” It’s only seven words instead of eleven, so it’s obviously easier to remember. It’s not from the Bible, so you can practice it all the time, not just in church or on religious holidays. Plus you don’t have to worry about using an old (dated) word, like “unto,” in a conversation with your buddies.

      I’d be greatful if you’d help me spread the word on this “Being Nicer Than YOU Have to Be!” Users of this report that the reciprocity they experience in return, is mind-boggling and, it makes the user feel better about themselves,too. Let me know what you think, and thanks for your comment. Alan

  3. Thanks for sharing every one’s input about the being unhappy with and/or on the job. While I do not think there is a 100% answer, some people are unhappy because they want to be or to interrupt someone else’s happiness. With employee survey’s, a score in the mid 80% range is a great score.
    In my mind, there are several ingredients that are necessary to raise the score, 1) Rules and fair discipline that pertains to all. 2) Established Vision Statement so everyone knows where they are header. 3. Well defined education and training programs structured to move in the specific direction of the vision statement. 4.Measurable and posted goals that offer incremental steps to accomplishment of the Vision statement. A team oriented Culture that is understood by the employees.
    It has been my experience that these items have been established within many companies but developed and mailed to employees. These steps should be developed and by the employees with leadership from all appropriate places.
    One can’t promise success but employees can deliver success if they are committed to each other.

  4. Anyone wanting for his or her employees to care needs to start with the ones who do!

    The trouble is that a fish rots from the head down. I have worked at jobs where I totally understood why the customer was upset and was 100% on the customers side. However, as someone who was given responsibility without authority, I knew that management did not care about a customer’s personal problems. What management wanted for me to do was to get rid of this complainer without losing any of the company’s money in the process. I saw the stupidity of thinking only of today’s sales receipts or at most next quarter’s stock reports. Yet, if I wanted to have next month’s rent from what upper managment considered my loser’s job, I had better not think too much about what was in the best interest of the customer, even if I knew that this person was right and that we could lose his or her business forever.

    • Mary, Thanks for the comments. Your real world experiences are in sync with what others report. If your management isn’t able to connect the dots, it certainly becomes more problematic when there are people like you who care and want to do the right thing.

  5. If I am successful in getting my own business going, which I am currently seeking to do, I want to do two things. The first is hire good people, and the second is get out of their way. I recently left a job which was very attractive to hospitable people, but the turnover rate was so high that my employer hired every Wednesday. It broke my heart to see new co-workers come in who were so sweet that they could have bled butterscotch. I knew these people could sell to customers who would be delighted to give their humble money to these wonderful people who were a real joy to meet and a real inspiration to work with. I really did think that highly of some of my newly-hired co-workers. It never lasted because they so soon grew weary of being micro-managed and never rewarded for their efforts.

    Let’s put it this way. Did you ever see Jack Nickelson in “The Shining”? Over and over I saw the change come over my co-workers within a couple of months of starting the job, or even sooner. It was entirely preventable.

  6. G’Day Alan,
    I think that Ricardo Semler of Semco summed it up rather well when he said “As a leader, my main job is to motivate them so that they can go home and be proud of their work”

    I also believe that employees should be responsible for running the business on a day to day basis. A manager’s prime job in relation to employees is to put systems in place that make it impossible for employees to fail.

    Employee performance is all about performance systems and performance standards. To quote Geary Rummler, “If you put a good performer in a bad system, the system wins every time.”

    And back in 1988 Tom Gilbert said, “the biggest single reason why employees don’t do better work is because they don’t know what’s expected of them.” My corollary to that is; “but their managers think they do.”

    A couple of other things: the workplace is comprised of individuals: but they’re required to be effective in teams. Employees must know, in precise, measurable performance terms exactly what’s expected of them and precisely how their performance will be measured. And they should be well rewarded when the satisfy the performance standards.

    Finally,employees are the best people around to measure their own performance.

    Hope this helps


  7. Hi Alan,

    As a freelancer, my employees consist of the creative minds I subcontract work out to. The dynamic is slightly different in that we are innately after the same common goal – success and satisfaction of our clients – because our bread (income!) depends directly on it.

    Nevertheless, I put these individuals through a process similar to what you’d find in any job. I find that it is keenly important to know where their skills and passion lie. But once on the project, I try to treat them similarly to how the client wishes to be treated. If the project is in my name, then they work for me, and I want them happy so they produce great work, bring more client work, and continue the smiles (and income) all around.

    Above all this, it is most important to find the “right” talent — workers who initially have that drive, that passion, and need only the information and organization to complete the work.

  8. As a retiree from a job in sales management for over 20 years and now as an employee in a part-time position that has no management responsibility, my eyes have been opened to what I think are the keys to hiring and maintaining employees who always give their best and like their work job. First, it is important to have in place an effective and thorough interview process. I have observed , too many times, management who become blinded by the first impression of a prospective employee, which leads them to make a hasty decision to hire and then the employee performs below expectations. Interviews of prospective employees should be a process that elicits impressions from multiple interviewers.

    Secondly, it is important to have a thorough and detailed training program. I have seen situations where this is overlooked and when management was asked why, the answer was, “He or she will have to get it as on-the-job-training, we don’t have the time to do more.” On-the-job training is only part of a training program. If this is all one gets, a new employee will have many questions that may go unanswered or only partially answered. Proper training of a new employee will go a long way toward ensuring success on the job.

    Thirdly, management must lead by example. They must demonstrate their interest in the well-being and success of their employees by creating and maintaining a friendly work environment. Compliments for a job well done, a simple, “Hello, how are you today?”, willingness to pitch in when the work load becomes too heavy, and always taking time to listen are just a few ways management can lead by example. The employee must feel he or she has value in the workplace.

    • Ken, Thank you so much for the wonderful comment. I love the perspective you bring. Every one of your points is spot on. In a an outstanding culture there is, by design, a great deal of PAYING ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS! They can make or break an organization.

  9. Great points on an important and very big issue. Another way to look at it is that the question is really about Attitude. Some staff have attitudes that are conducive and others do not. Attitudes are very difficult to change. You can only train and lead and educate to a point. The key is to find those who fit during the selection process and then keeping them motivated after they are retained by training, leadership and engagement. There are many excellent comments above on this by Ken Sellers, Jerry Graves, Leon Noone and Brandon N, among others. Most employment terminations are due to attitude and not because of aptitude.
    The old maxim is that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This means that more resources (e.g., time and money) should be allocated to the selection process which will reduce the losses in productivity when there is a dismissal.
    The problem exists and there are many causes, some of which are beyond a business leaders control, which is why there is no simple easy quick fix. Excellent comment.

  10. Alan, thanks for helping us to think and to share our ideas. Caring is a wonderful part of life and work. We all know how great we feel when someone cares for us! So, without further delay, caring is what others should see in each of us – all the time. Care about providing great work for others to do. Care about encouraging contribution. Care about how another persons ideas will influence process and outcome. Care about what others care about. Care about when things go wrong and go right. care about growth. Care about other key values. Care about co-workers, clients and customers. Care about forging change. Oh, and, be really great at some products and services.