Getting Employees to Take Ownership
By Brenda Smyth
Are your employees doing the minimum required to get the job done? Or, do they own the work, their projects, the outcome? Are they on the lookout to do things better, faster, cheaper? The employee who takes ownership goes beyond what is required. You would trust that person to not just complete the task assigned, but to identify obstacles, notice results, adjust when needed and make you aware of these things without being asked.
How can a manager encourage ownership in everyone?
1. Make sure skills and resources match expectations. Does the employee have the skills needed to do the job? Do they have the time? Do they have the authority? The confidence? The resources? Consider if there are missing elements blocking a successful outcome. Don’t undermine confidence by putting employees in situations they can’t control or don’t have the skills to complete. Additionally, when you’re hiring, identify job candidates who understand what ownership is and can give examples of times they’ve displayed this quality in previous work or school experiences.
2. Clearly identify objectives and checkpoints. This gives everyone a clear understanding of where you’re headed, suggests themuse.com. Involving employees in outlining those objectives can also help with ownership. Setting priorities and establishing processes without getting input from the workers involved, shows them their input isn’t important. A two-way conversation, followed by your asking the person to summarize the outcome and how he or she is going to achieve it helps ensure you’re both on the same page, suggests hbr.org. Establish measurable milestones and checkpoints along the way that keep you in touch with progress. Help the person stay on track.
3. Delegate authority, not just work. Ericchester.com suggests that you give employees a leadership role when possible so they can practice leading. If they’re the expert on a particular component of a project, let them take the lead in a meeting where that topic will be discussed. Also when you delegate, be clear about expectations, explain why the task must be done and where decision-making authority lies.
4. Let employees solve problems. “There is a strong temptation as a manager to help your employees by taking on their problems and solving them for them,” suggests hrzone.com. Resist. By tackling these issues themselves, employees develop confidence. The next time someone shows up at your door to unload their latest problem (assuming it’s not the newbie on your team), ask “what were you thinking of doing to solve this?” Obviously they’ve come to you because they’re not sure what to do. But your goals are two-fold. Set the expectation that you’re looking for solutions and help build their decision-making confidence. (Remember to be open-minded—there’s usually more than one way to solve a problem, and an employee will quickly become frustrated if you reject every idea they have.) If they need a little guidance, help them consider small steps that will get them headed in the right direction.
5. Express trust and confidence. Naming the qualities and experiences they have that will be useful in finding a solution will build their confidence.
6. Hold them accountable. Reward success. If you’re reasonably certain you did everything outlined above and the person doesn’t deliver, there needs to be a consequence, particularly if this is a pattern of behavior.
Getting employees to take more ownership of their work begins with finding the right people and making sure you both clearly understand the objectives and the “why.” Then agree to keep tabs along the way and resist the temptation to solve every little problem that crops up. Show trust. And reward a successful finish.
Identity Theft… and You
Is someone using your personal information to open new accounts, make purchases or get a tax refund? Report it at www.IdentityTheft.gov and get a personal recovery plan.
What to Do Right Away
Step 1: Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred.
Call the fraud department. Explain that someone stle your identity.
Ask them to close or freeze the accounts. Then, no one can add new charges unless you agree.
Change logins, passwords and PINs for your accounts.
Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports. A fraud alert is free. It will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name.
To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two. You’ll get a letter from each credit bureau. It will confirm that they placed a fraud alert on your file.
Get a copy of your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. If you have already ordered your free credit reports this year, you can pay to get your report immediately. Or follow the instructions in the fraud alert confirmation letter from each credit bureau to get a free report. That might take longer.
Review your reports. Make note of any account or transaction you don’t recognize. This will help you report the theft to the FTC and the police.
Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC.
Visit IdentityTheft.gov and click “Get Started.” Or call 1-877-438-4338. Include as many details as possible. Based on the information you enter, IdentityTheft.gov will create your Identity Theft Affidavit and recovery plan. If you create an account, the FTC will walk you through each recovery step, update your plan as needed, track your progress, and pre-fill forms and letters for you. If you don’t create an account, you must print and save you’re your Identity Theft Affidavit and recover plan right away. Once you leave the page, you won’t be able to access or update them.
Step 4: File a report with your local police department.
Go to your local police with a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, a government issued ID with photo, proof of your address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utility bill), any proof you have of the theft (bills, IRS notices, etc.), the FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement (available at IdentityTheft.gov).
Tell the police someone stole your identity and you need to file a report. If they are reluctant, show them the FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement.
Ask for a copy of the police report. You’ll need this to complete other steps.
Create your Identity Theft Report by combining your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit with you police report. Your identity theft report proves to businesses that someone stole your identity. It also guarantees you certain rights.
Step 5: Your next step might be closing accounts opened in your name or reporting fraudulent charges to yur credit card company. IdentityTheft.gov can help – no matter what your specific identity theft situation is.
30 MILLION WORKERS WITHOUT A
BACHELOR’S DEGREE HAVE GOOD JOBS
By Steve Bent
Although the decline in the manufacturing economy eliminated many good jobs for high school graduates, new research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase & Co. finds that there are currently 30 million good jobs in the U.S. that pay without a Bachelor’s degree. These good jobs have a median salary of $55,000.
Good Job That Pay without a BA shows that good jobs continue to grow, but they are changing from traditional blue-collar industries to skilled-services industries. A gain of 4 million good jobs in skilled-services industries, such as financial services and health services, have more than offset the 2.8 million good jobs lost in manufacturing.
Although the economy has shifted, workers without a BA still comprise 64% of all workers. Many believe good jobs for workers without a BA no longer exist in this new environment. Even though there have been big losses, manufacturing still provides the largest number of good jobs.
While the good jobs of the manufacturing era only required a high school diploma or less, new good jobs tend to require at least some postsecondary education and training. The growth of good jobs has been the greatest for workers with an Associate’s degree.
Americans with only high school diplomas still have the largest share of good jobs (11.6 million), but that share continues to decline. Workers with some college have 9.3 million good jobs, those with Associate’s degrees have 7.6 million good jobs, and high school dropouts only have 1.7 million.
Hotel Employee Engagement to
Achieve Customer Satisfaction
By Bob Kelleher
After many years working for both small businesses and large Fortune 500 companies, and after having an up-close view of all aspects of how organizations function, I’ve concluded that there is one common trait successful businesses share: the firm’s leaders understand that employee engagement is intricately linked to customer satisfaction.
You might also be surprised to learn that these companies implicitly understand that their customers and clients are not their #1 priority. Their employees have to be. There is no industry where this is more true than the hospitality industry — an industry in which the customer’s experience is almost entirely dependent on how engaged a particular hotel’s workforce happens to be.
Successful hotels and hotel chains know that their employees are #1. Certainly customers need to be are “1b,” so to speak. But, hotels that “get it” understand that their employees drive customer satisfaction and that without engaged and motivated employees as “1a,” their customers will never achieve the optimum customer experience. I’ve heard gasps and observed surprised expressions exchanged across boardrooms when I’ve made this assertion – after all, it’s customers who pay the bills, and no one doubts the importance of maintaining their satisfaction and enticing them to return to your establishment. I’ve also seen eyes roll in the heads of employees who have heard this sort of thing stated disingenuously too many times by insincere leaders.
You might be surprised to hear that customers, after hearing me make a statement that seems to relegate them to a back seat, have often approached me after a meeting or presentation to tell me, “I wish this was how our management team felt about us!” After all, your customers usually work for companies, too. They want to know that their own company feels the same way about them. Employees’ dedication speaks volumes to customers. And to earn and benefit from that dedication, every business’s actions need to remind their employees of their importance.
It’s About People, But Not Satisfaction
Peter Drucker, the late management guru, concluded after many years of research that the most important five letter word in business begins with the letter P. It is not Profit, claimed Drucker, but rather People. Notwithstanding this observation, there is a common misperception that employee engagement means employee satisfaction. The last thing any company wants is an underperforming but satisfied employee. Engagement is not an end in and of itself – it’s not about having things (the best of benefit programs or the highest bonus checks), or even about instituting a training program or a flexible work week. Successful engagement is about sustaining:
a learning culture
transparent and frequent communication
the pursuit of high performance; and
alignment with company and individual goals.
The Paper Trail
I’d like to share a story which reinforces alignment – in this example alignment with engagement (or lack of) and customer experience. Not too long ago, I was in Portland, OR staying at a mid-priced downtown hotel and experienced firsthand this connection. While heading down to breakfast, I entered an elevator already occupied by two hotel employees. As we made our way to the lobby, I noticed a large piece of paper on the floor of the elevator (so large it looked like a small snow ball!). Almost intuitively, I went to pick up the paper….but decided to wait to see if one of the employees would pick it up first. Well, as we reached the lobby, I exited the elevator (the employees at least had the sense to let the customer exit first), but noticed the employees did not pick up the paper as they exited. I held the elevator door open and reached down to pick up the piece of paper. I then followed them and asked “I’m curious, why didn’t you pick this up?” Well, one employee sheepishly replied, “I didn’t see it sir”, slightly embarrassed that I picked it up and he didn’t. The second employee boldly announced, “They don’t pay me enough to pick up trash”. Ummm, a clear lack of engagement.
I decided to continue my little social experiment a short while later while visiting another hotel in Philadelphia, PA. This particular hotel seemed to be a potential contrarian case study compared to my earlier “disengaged” example as I had noticed an incredibly high level of customer focus when I checked in. After a good night’s sleep, I went out for a morning run, and upon return, the doorman was there to greet me with a towel, a bottle of water, and a big smile (notice where we’re going here?). After showering, I was excited to head into the nearest elevator with my prop – a crumbled up piece of paper. Depositing the paper on the elevator floor, I casually rode the elevator several times up and down to finally encounter a hotel employee. I was instantly rewarded! Upon entering the elevator, the employee said, “Good morning Sir,” and bent down to pick up the paper all in one motion. When I asked him why he picked up the paper, he exclaimed enthusiastically, “Sir, at Hotel XYZ, it is all about the customer experience.”
This comparison highlights the obvious: the latter example has engaged employees while the first example had employees who were obviously disengaged [note: although not highlighted, I had experienced a number of related poor customer examples at this hotel.
Fly Me To The Moon – with a Frown
Let’s switch industry focus for a moment. Over the past 10 years, it has been plain to me (and just about everyone else who flies frequently) that employee engagement within the large U.S. airlines is remarkably low, resulting in extremely low customer satisfaction! The connection with low employee engagement levels and diminished customer experience is quite vivid every time we travel. It doesn’t help that they now charge customers for pretzels, carry-ons, aisle seats, etc. [Imagine going up to the hotel concierge and asking for directions and hearing, “That will be $2.00 sir”]. Well, why do I feel differently when I travel on Southwest airlines? Why is it different with international carriers? I continue to be amazed that some companies can figure out the connection between engaged employees and the customer experience while others struggle to make the connection.
Where to Begin?
Often, companies don’t know where to begin, or what to do. For starters, before one can connect employee engagement to customer satisfaction, they need to understand what is employee engagement. Hotels need to define employee engagement for their culture – what it means within their business, and what would resonate with their employees. I define employee engagement as the “mutual commitment between employer and employee”, and best sustained when the employer focuses on unlocking the potential of their employees, and the employees are focused on helping the business reach high performance.” This key theme of mutual commitment by employer and employee is also reinforced in the following engagement statements used my some of my clients:
One team, one goal
Employees who go the extra mile in loyalty and ambassadorship
Intellectual understanding and emotional commitment
Employees who get their hearts and minds in the business
Employees who say, stay, and strive
Employees who think and act as business people
In closing, I believe organizations that figure out how to best engage their employees, we realize that it truly is the secret sauce of customer satisfaction. How to engage your employees is at issue, perhaps, and needs focus, investment, and effort. Whether to engage them is decidedly not.