10 Keys to Workplace Excellence

By Peter Stark

No matter what state the economy is in, the bottom line rules business; and motivated employees boost the bottom line.

Why? Motivated employees want to come to work, and they improve your product and your service in so many ways. Their positive attitude is contagious. Employees with an above-average attitude toward their work will generate higher customer satisfaction, higher productivity, and higher profits for their organizations. Companies with higher morale (more than 70%) outperformed those in the same industries by 11.3%. It’s clear that maintaining a vital, engaged workforce has a significant impact on the bottom line.

So, how do you keep an employee engaged when they’ve watched their 401K or IRA accounts decrease by 50% or more in a few short months? Or when they’ve had to pick up the slack of employees who have been given pink slips?

Based on surveys of over 100,000 managers and employees from hundreds of organizations around the world we have uncovered the following “10 keys to workplace excellence” implemented by the “Best of the Best” (those in the top quartile) organizations.

  1. Provide a compelling, positive vision with clear goals. Our research has clearly shown that there are two major problems in organizations with low scores in this area. First, they do not have a clear vision of where they are heading; second, while they may state a vision, they do not bring it to reality. The Best-of-the-Best organizations possess a compelling, positive vision and every employee understands the company’s goals and future direction.

  2. Communicate the right stuff at the right time. Best-of-the-Best leaders seek out the thoughts and opinions of employees, especially prior to making changes that impact their work. They expect employees to think and make decisions that improve the company.

  3. Select the right people for the right job. When your organization acquires a reputation for workplace excellence, you attract high caliber candidates. If your organization has a reputation for hiring those people, you are not going to take on a mediocre or poor candidate. Like the Best-of-the-Best organizations, you would rather wait and re-post the job than hire the wrong person.

  4. Create a united, team atmosphere. When it comes to organizational success, individuals cannot win without a team. To consistently win, you need both great players and great teamwork. Each team member must accept responsibility, be accountable, and produce extraordinary results so the team can win.

  5. Encourage cool stuff—continuous improvement and innovation. “Cool stuff” is creating new products, processes, or services, or solving significant organizational or industry problems—anything other than performing the day-to-day components of the job. We know that organizations are able to achieve what they value, expect, and recognize.

  6. Recognize and reward excellent performance. Does your organization reward employees who are mediocre or poor performers? Do they distribute bonuses solely based on the number of years of service to your organization? When every employee receives the same reward, or when rewards are not linked directly to performance and results, it is almost guaranteed to lead to lower morale.

  7. Demand accountability. Best-of-the-Best organizations excel in performance management in three ways: they clearly define what is expected of employees; they give employees ongoing feedback regarding their performance; and they hold all members of the team accountable to meeting performance standards. Employees need to see the target they are trying to hit.

  8. Ensure that every employee learns and grows. Best-of-the-Best organizations provide their employees with training and learning opportunities. People who feel valued by their organization are more likely to stay with the company and are confident that the organization will continually provide them with opportunities for advancement and growth.

  9. Deal with problems quickly and effectively. Best-of-the-Best organizations do a particularly better job than others at communicating that management wants employees to solve problems. They are also quicker to resolve conflict (people problems) within their organizations. Conflict causes people to become sidetracked by peripheral issues rather than staying focused on achieving the mission, vision, and goals of the organization.

  10. Make sure each employee understands—it’s all about the customer. Almost all employees say their organizations place a high value on customer service. What is important is that 94% of the people working for the Best-of-the-Best say their organizations place a high value on exceeding customer expectations. Supporting their employees allows them to provide customers with the quality service they desire.

When we talk about these 10 keys, invariably someone asks, “Where’s the money? Isn’t wage or salary one of the key differentiators between the Best-of-the-Best organizations and the rest of the pack?” The answer is a little bit of yes—and a lot of no.

There is only a 5.9 percentage point difference between Best-of-the-Best companies and the rest when it comes to employee compensation. The average amount of wage increase employees receive upon leaving an organization is only approximately 6%. The real reason employees leave is that they do not love their jobs or feel a strong relationship with their bosses. When they love their jobs and have a strong working relationship with their managers, it takes significantly more than 6% to get people to jump ship.

Your organization can be one of the Best-of-the-Best. Start with a compelling, positive vision, along with clear, concrete goals for achieving it. Add in an ongoing attitude that more communication to employees is better and hire and train the people who are receptive to achieving the company vision. Foster teamwork, both within your own department and with other departments.

Encourage efforts to improve the product, service, and the organization. Hold people accountable and continually recognize excellent performance. Offer the training and opportunities people need to perform well, and make sure they have the resources to provide service that delights your customers.

Author Bio:
Peter Stark is president of the Peter Barron Stark Companies (www.pbsconsulting.com). He is the author of ENGAGED! How Leaders Build Organizations Where Employers Love to Come to Work. Contact him at 877.727.6468 or peter@pbsconsulting.com

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