Take Care of Your People and Results Will Come
March 2, 2017
By Wendi Walker-Schmidt
I have spent the last 20 years of my career in the human resources, learning and OD world. In that time I have heard and had many discussions around the question, “What is the employee experience?” Some define it as what an employee receives during their interaction with their career’s elements, while others define it as employee emotions with the technological and physical environment they experience. Additional definitions cite the employee experience as perceptions about the interactions with their organization.
All of these are great interpretations of the employee experience, but for me it sums up to “take care of your people and results will come.”
In my first leadership role, I was young and quite full of myself. I got results from my team, but it was through fear, intimidation and drive. My supervisor soon taught me a wonderful lesson I am grateful I learned early in my career: “Take care of your people, results will come.”
When he first said this to me I thought this was the “phrase of the month.” I took his advice half-heartedly, but he decided to get my attention. In turn, my bonus structure was changed by minimizing my sales goal and adding a people retention component which meant part of my bonus was based on sales, while the other part was keeping people and engaging them. I had to learn to talk to my team, not at them. Each person was a unique individual and had different ways to be motivated.
There are plenty of articles that focus on how employee engagement impacts customer service and helps an organization’s bottom line. While this is a true statement, people make up the organization. Each individual employee experience impacts engagement and eventually the bottom line. Taking care of the employee population generally falls on the leadership, HR and OD teams. However, isn’t it everyone’s responsibility in the organization to make sure we take care of our fellow coworkers? This could be a simple smile in the hall, a “good morning” or words of encouragement. Leaders are responsible for finding out what motivates the members of their specific team, but as employees, we need to focus on making sure we are cognizant of it as well.
In researching organizations with cultures of high performance, it is clear they take care of their people. It’s not a sand volleyball court or video games in the breakroom that necessarily engages people, it’s what they experience on a day-to-day basis that makes them intrinsically smile. One of my favorite sections in John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, is the “Law of Connection.” It talks about how leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. In coaching organizations over the years on engagement and retention, this is what we focus on at all levels of the company. Focus on that day-to-day employee experience.
What does the employee experience look like for your team? If you don’t know, ask them. Take care of your people and results will come.