When John F Kennedy visited the Space Center in Houston in 1962, he came upon a janitor, and asked him what he was doing. The janitor looked at the young president and smiled and said, “I am helping put an American on the moon.”
When a food wagon employee was asked how she liked her job, she answered, “I love it, because I’m feeding people.”
These people saw the meaning in their work. They were on a mission; they were working towards a vast and noble goal one task at a time.
Because they saw the bigger picture, because they believed their mission, they believed that what they were doing was important and they treated it as such, they were dedicated.
That in a nutshell is the secret to finding, hiring, and keeping good people at all levels of the organization…all levels, especially the ones who are doing the most amount of work for the least amount of money.
Look, all good people want to work, and they want to do a good job, and they want to feel that what they do is important. It is our job to make them feel that way, to inspire them to think that way.
We should always remember that no matter what job a person has in our company, that person is important, and chances are that person is the most important person to his or her family. He might be a father with two kids and wife to support. She might be working hard to provide a good education and future for her children. They might be supporting their aged parents or relatives. Regardless, remember that they are the most important person to that family.
My father was a school janitor and bus driver who worked from seven in the morning to eleven at night for 25 years so that we could have a better life. I consider myself lucky to have learned to respect everyone no matter what they do in a company all the time.
Respect is the number one factor to having a good, strong, dedicated, and passionate workforce.
Here are some of the best ways to find and keep the best work team possible:
- Don’t offer them a job, offer them a career. Show them the possibilities for their personal growth. No matter where they are going to work in your company, from QA to plating, there are always possibilities to grow. Show them what those are. Create a career path for all positions, all of them. Show the employee where she can be in a year, in five years and for the rest of her business life.
- Tell them about our industry. We are part of a very interesting, and important industry. We build the products of the future. We build products that change the world. Show them what we do. Talk to them about your company, its’ mission, and its’ vision. Have a new hire orientation program that talks about your company, the industry and your company’s place in the industry.
- Develop and implement a strong training program. This will not only incent the work force, but it will be great for the company as well. Create a multi-tiered training program with steady pay increases for when they successfully complete training levels. They will earn these increases by becoming more valuable to the company. This is very important. Tie their pay increases to their training programs so they know all of the opportunities both financial and career-wise that lay ahead for them if they are willing to dedicate themselves.
- Talk to each employee and get to know them on a personal level. If you are in a small company then this is easily accomplished. If you are a large company, then develop a formal plan for division managers to spend one on one time with each employee. Get to know them. Find out what their outside interests are, what their dreams are, what is important to them. As leaders we have a responsibility to pave the way for our teammates to be as successful as they can be, to go as far as they can in the company. You should consider a mentoring program. Your employees are your most cherished asset. Find out what they can do, what talents they have…what makes their heart sing and see if that can be adapted to the needs of your company.
- Treat them as true team mates. Keep them informed as to what is going on in the company. Hold team meetings, hold company-wide meetings where you give them an update on the company, hold celebrations when something great has happened and give public acknowledgement as employees go through the different training levels and accomplish their goals.
- Hold a family open house once a year. Let your employees show their families where they work and what they do. Let them be proud of what they do and also make their families proud of them.
Doing all of these things will capture your employee’s passion for their work. Doing these things will make them feel an integral part of the company. They will be so proud of where they work that they will try to convince others, friends, and family members to join the company as well.
Oh, and one last bit of advice. Remember that you are all on the same team, always, you are all equal and you all have an important role to play in your company’s success. If you can remember that and if you can live that, you never have a problem finding, hiring, and keeping the right people. It’s only common sense.