Finding the right fit

Finding a Good Fit

Why the right person for the job matters…

In every position, regardless of what product is involved, having the right person in the right position is essential to the success of the company.  In a successful work environment, work processes are carefully designed to ensure an efficient and smooth flow to minimize waste and increase productivity. Even the best processes won’t work if the right people are not in the right position within the company.

One night a group of us went for supper at a popular chain restaurant and experienced what happens when staff isn’t a good fit for their role in the organization. My daughter was competing in a dance competition in this small town of 5,000 people. The three-day annual event brings in several hundred people to the community, occupying hotel rooms, and supporting local businesses. This is an opportunity to boost sales and build a business’s reputation. It also gives management the chance to demonstrate their leadership skills and to develop their staff.

Right person for the job

When we arrived, the restaurant was busy, but our party of seven was seated quickly. We noted a large party occupying several tables, and the rest was filled with dancers proudly displaying their studio clothes. Our very pregnant waitress took our drink order swiftly, and we waited.  And we waited some more.  Finally, she returned with our drinks but wasn’t ready to take our order.  Several minutes later, she returned to take our order.  During the wait, I observed what was happening in the rest of the restaurant.  It was evident that they were horribly understaffed. That occasionally can happen at any restaurant, but the manager needs to control the situation and manage the expectations of the guests.

After finishing our meal, I tried to signal the waitress that we wanted the bill.  Twenty-five minutes passed, so I went to the hostess desk and waited.  Another ten minutes passed when another waitress came by. I asked if I could speak to the manager. I expressed my concerns about the service we received that evening and the effect that type of shift has on staff and customers alike.  The reaction of the manager was shocking.  She accepted no responsibility for our experience or for the stress her staff was under, nor did she apologize.  I wasn’t looking for a discount; I wanted to see what type of leader she was.

Unfortunately, this scenario is commonplace in many businesses. Whether it is out of desperation, obligation, or union rules, it is not uncommon that the wrong person is in the wrong job or position.  Having the right employee in the correct position starts at the interview.  But past that, the employer needs to ensure that staff remains in the right position throughout their time with the company.  Not only does it support personal and professional development, but it reinforces the organization’s commitment to their staff.  This will not go unnoticed by employees.  Through on-going staff development, evaluations of staff and employee satisfaction ratings and knowing the staff and their capabilities, the employer can manage the leadership within their organization.

For the staff level readers, I ask you to consider the last time you felt your employer took an interest in you, either personally or in your job.  I also challenge you to examine your own position and job performance.  Are you the right person for the job?  If you are in a management or owner position, how well do you know your staff?  Do you encourage your staff to develop themselves?

Stop the Silence

Stop the Silence!

Stop the Silence – Keeping your employees engaged…

Research shows that communication is a vital component for a high-functioning organization that wishes to empower employees and thrive as a business, regardless of the industry. Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception by many in management roles that employees that don’t speak their mind and who go along with the management’s direction are more valued than those that express themselves.  While these silenced employees may be perceived as easier to manage, the opposite is actually true.  Employers must provide a platform for employees to have a voice.  This not only keeps employees engaged but increases performance.  It promotes creativity and stifles groupthink leading to greater innovation.

Several years ago, my former organization was exploring a new health care delivery model.  This change was based on the Southcentral Foundation’s NUKA model of care that focused on patient-driven care.  Part of the initial stages of this process included sending a delegation to a week-long training at the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska.  My director, at the time, asked if I would be willing to attend.  Naturally, I agreed.  Who doesn’t want to spend a week in Alaska at the boss’s expense?  The experience was invigorating and ignited my passion for healthcare again.  Later my director confessed that the reason she invited me to participate was due to my outspoken nature.  She knew if she didn’t have my buy-in, she would likely have some push-back.  She also understood that I could be her biggest ally in the implementation process if I realized the benefits of the change. Instead of silencing my voice, she understood the informal leadership role I had on the team and used it to benefit the organization.

Unfortunately, many organizations miss out on the ideas and valuable input that employees have to offer.  I’ve never understood why, but some organizations intentionally silence their people.  Perhaps management feels it is easier to manage or control situations, or possibly the manager is treated the same from those in the next management level up.  Either way, this culture of silence is counterproductive and diminishes the organization’s opportunity for sustainable growth.

Although high-performing organizations promote a culture of open communication, recent research shows that the majority of employees fear speaking up and that those that did speak up were less likely to move up the ladder.  Research also shows that suffering in silence leads to adverse outcomes for the organization. It causes low motivation, disengagement, alienation, and, low morale.

The benefits of employee input are numerous.  Employees work on the front-lines and are most familiar with the products, customers, and processes.  This day to day exposure to the workings of the organization offers insights that those at the management level may not be aware of.  Coming from a healthcare background, I will use the nurse-doctor analogy.  The nurse spends twelve hours with the patient while the doctor may spend ten minutes. Who knows the patient better?  Not that the nurse knows better than the doctor, but they will know more about the patient’s symptoms and overall condition. Ultimately, the doctor makes the decision, but without input from the nurse, the doctor wouldn’t have all of the information to make the best decision.  Without input from employees, management will not have all the information required to make the best decisions for the organization.

There are multiple strategies that organizations can use to encourage employees to contribute their opinions. First and foremost is leadership modeling behaviors that encourage and support active two-way communication.  By reducing formality and power cues, the leader assumes a collaboration role rather than a dictator role, making them more approachable.  Avoid speaking to only those employees that you are comfortable with.  This alienates the rest and promotes favoritism, which, in turn, silences your staff.

Make asking input part of a daily routine and then actually do something with the information.  Twenty-five percent of employees do not share ideas or information as they feel that nothing will be done with it.  Maybe it isn’t valuable today, but it may be tomorrow. Assuming that employees will speak up on their own is a gamble.  Perhaps previous experiences or lack of confidence will stop them from presenting what could be an amazing idea.  By not asking for their input, you are essentially silencing them.

To encourage diversity in your cohesive team, bring up controversial topics, and encourage debate.  Do not nit-pick or demand a plan or data during the brainstorming phase.  Allow the team to be creative and follow-up with data to support their suggestions. These approaches encourage active dialogue and set the tone for a safe environment for honest communication.

Promoting a culture of recognition encourages continuous input from employees.  Staff that feels appreciated for the achievements will gain confidence within the company.  The more confident an employee is, the more likely they are to offer input.  Commend staff for their suggestions and for asking tough questions.  Finally, reward and recognize employees that offer input that contributes to successes.

In conclusion, cultures of dialogue not only result in more engaged employees but the bottom-line results that organizations strive to achieve.  When organizations utilize the full potential of their staff, it diminishes creativity and productivity.  Worse yet, silencing employees leaves untapped potential, and eventually, that potential will go elsewhere to an environment that appreciates them.

Even if you don’t intentionally silence your team, I challenge managers to look at their own behavior.  What can you do to encourage employee input?  Is there a behavior that you can change to stop the silence?