Successful CEOs know pretty well that the business’ overall victory vastly depends on a combined effort of every single person working for them. They see their businesses as a well-oiled machines, with each bolt tightly screwed to its place, enabling them to move forward at a most desirable speed.
Indubitably, they will be driving through seasons of a firm seatbelt-fastening and high acceleration. Other times, they will be cruising steadily with their roofs down, enjoying the sun-rays of triumph. Either way, their business vehicles must remain in a tip-top condition at all intervals.
The question is: how do you keep all the nuts and bolts in their right place at all times? Let’s look into it.
Baby Boomers and Generation X employees where brought up in the shadow of the ‘work for life’ and ‘I pay – you work’ mentality, and therefore were happy occupying the back-seat position.
Generation Y enjoy multi-tasking, are goal oriented and value work ethics, and ideally would like to be involved in the navigating activities coming from sitting at the co-driver seat.
Generation Z, which has already started entering the work-market, are seeking a collaborative and innovative employer, are very agile in their operation and management, and not surprisingly are after the steering wheel.
So how can the CEOs successfully cater for all these demands and different agendas? They must look to their managers for help.
Recent study carried out by The Chartered Institute of Personal and Development suggests that there is an underlying thread running through and connecting all of the above generations. It is the employee – employer (manager) relation, which at its best is exceedingly robust.
One of the highest responses of the survey was linked to the employee perception of the manager’s clarity about organisational strategy and vision, which was closely followed by the respectful relation between the manager and their staff.
Having clearly defined vision, strategy, goals and values of the organisation is crucial for its steady operation (I have written about it in my previous article Goals. Beliefs. Principles.). The role of a manager is to make sure they live and breathe them every day, lead by example and simply are available to each member of their team to clarify any queries. Just as with a good mechanic who knows when to schedule for a regular MOT check, and when to undertake the ad-hoc examination, the good manager stays close to his/hers people, and knows when to intervene while steadily moving forward.
Respect was the second big theme. In the context of a workplace, respect certainly is not equal to ‘doing a lip service’ or patching small holes in the tyres along the way (throwing money at people), just to keep them going for the sake of moving forward. Here are some of the most important qualities searched in a manager highlighted by the group of surveyed employees:
- Recognise a job well done – to say thank you for their efforts and hard work
- Make good decisions – by having an on-going dialogue with them so that the decisions taken by managers are truly supported
- Being open and honest – by telling them in simple terms just ‘how it is’
- Having appropriate resources to do the job – listening to their needs to enhance their performance and create the best environment for getting the job done
- Giving regular feedback – by making sure a regular and systematic (as well as ‘in a moment’) performance-based feedback is shared with them
- Do what they say they do – by being consistent with their approach and actually ‘waking the walk’
The results of the above survey are closely aligned with my experiences of working with a hundreds of people over the years. When the road is bumpy, your people will hold tighter and certainly shy away from jumping the ship at the first opportunity. But they will get disillusioned and disheartened when no authentic recognition follows they hard efforts. Worth remembering that they are not after a conversation about their remuneration (!!!), because for as long as they feel that they are being paid fairly for what they do, and see their total reward package as attractive, the money conversation is off the agenda. What they are looking for in their managers is to be regularly and frankly updated on the life of the organisation, and mainly (often overlooked) very human thank you, which by the way, can go a long way. Here are some of the ‘thank you’ examples I can recall from the past:
Many thanks for your support and dedication to the project. It was something really great and it proved your excellence in your work. Thank you.
Thank you for being so committed. It’s only a matter of time that all your efforts will be duly remitted.
Thank you for your hard work and honesty. We really appreciate your style of work. Well done.
Thanks for treating the company’s problems as your own. You have what it takes to be a terrific employee and a future leader. Thank you.
We would not be able to do it without you. Thank you for standing strong.
The list can go on, and the ways for saying thank you are endless, for as long as there are genuine, authentic and based on facts. Try it. It might feel awkward at the begging, but just like with anything else in life, practice makes perfect.
Let’s return to my analogy. As managers, our job is to keep all parts of the machine in a healthy and well-oiled condition. Surely some of them may get bent, or simply pop out along the way, that’s expected, they will need replacing. Systematic MOT checks aren’t carried out just for the essential safety reasons, but also for giving us the confidence that we will make it even through the toughest and most unexpected conditions.