September 15, 2016
By Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager

Jacki HartBy the time you are read this column, the heat of the summer and the intensity of the first half of the season should be waning somewhat. Fall seems to be a smoother, yet very busy season for us all. By now, the ‘keepers’ amongst your team have become obvious, the kinks have been navigated in your systems, and things typically are a bit less intense. Dare I say, more manageable?

I thought this would be a good time of year to discuss the concept of Company Citizenship. To quote Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, “You can’t expect your employees to exceed expectations of your customers, if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.”

Read that again.

If I had a Loonie for every business owner and manager who has cried the “I can’t find good people” blues, I would be comfortably retired and kayaking all summer.

Here’s what I believe to be top priority recommendations when building a Company Citizenship guide:
  1. Recruiting and hiring: Look for learners when you hire; the people who have a desire to grow. Hire people who are keen to take advantage of the resources your company provides them to excel. Bake this into your culture before they step through your door.
  2. Benefits and incentives: Offer benefits, training, bonuses and perks when you can. Have a clearly defined policy, levels, goals and rewards, and communicate them. Create inviting career paths.
  3. Onboarding: This new term describes how new employees acquire the knowledge, skills and behaviours to become effective organizational insiders. Not to be confused with ‘orientation.’ Accept that it will take nine to 12 months for a new employee to reach peak performance. The fact is, if you skip this process, you’ll lose approximately 60 per cent of your workforce within a year. Provide orientation, create confidence, a trusted culture, ensure training, welcome questions and walk your talk.
  4. Inclusive environment: A hallmark of Gen-Y is their desire to extract more intrinsic value out of their employers: Millennials want to connect. We are heading into an era of total complete transparency of information. Learn to embrace and shift your paradigm.
  5. Frequent feedback: Give honest feedback in real time. Conduct assessments often, even if informal. Highlight positive contributions — especially for Millennials.
  6. Invest in employees: Many employees exit companies because they feel underused — engage their potential. Without a clear career structure and proper socialization, new employees will disengage. Consider hiring ‘higher’ to lower your training and onboarding costs and inefficiencies.
  7. Retention: Provide smart and focused goals, positive leadership, growth opportunities, autonomy and a collaborative environment. Put equal emphasis on personal development and professional development to ensure a work-life balance.
  8. Separation: As more Millennials enter the work force, they are changing the concept of turnover and career fluidity. We have to work harder to retain talent and change the way we look at turnover. When Millennials inevitably leave, remember it is a part of growth — for both of you. Celebrate and get excited for next steps.
Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson, is renowned for saying, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.”

We all know training is expensive, but the cost of not training well, including the company mind set, is even higher.

As entrepreneurs, our default mode it to simply do things ourselves and to keep tons of important information crammed in our head where no one else can access it. In order to properly train people and fully engage their true potential contribution on your team, you have to download much of your knowledge to the team and communicate it clearly to the right person at the right time.

Now that we are heading into the final segment of the 2016 season, why not carve out a couple of hours for a meeting with yourself? The agenda for this meeting is to review the eight areas listed above and assign a score for you or your company for each. Make some notes and file forward for November as a reminder this winter as to how and where you can best focus on building better loyalty.
Jacki Hart may be contacted at