SUCCEEDING IN A TIGHT LABOR MARKET – ALL THE MOVING PARTS

One of those five elements of a company’s moving parts is its employees.

We’ve talked in previous posts about how important it is that the CEO and his leadership team understand the vital role that employees play in the well-being and success of the company – not only in doing their jobs, but in valuing the company, as well.  I spell out the specifics of how one turns the “average” employee into the “valuing” employee in the book, VALUE PLUS: EMPLOYEES AS VALUERS.   Believe me, there’s a great difference between the two genres, that is, these two types of employees.  We’ve talked in the past about the need for the company’s leaders to seek to turn all of their average employees into valuing employees – average employees tend to do very little for the company and for its ultimate success; valuing employees, on the other hand, make the company the best that it can be.  In a recent article, the WSJ featured KitchenAid’s “secret ingredient” for success with its employees.  Needless to say, that secret turned out to be a well-known truth, and one that far too many employers and heads of companies fail to adhere to – that is, the KitchenAid company invests in its workers, providing them with some relatively-inexpensive things like effective training and tuition reimbursement received in educational institutions of study agreed-upon by the employer and employee.  With millennials now attracted to places of employment for possibly the wrong reasons – ping-pong tables, daily happy hours, etc – it’s possible that current data showing that good on-site training for employees and effective off-site higher education will prove the most reliable way to attract and retain employees for the future.  One of the employees that KitchenAid cites is Jennifer Hanna, who is now responsible for 1,000 employees building KitchenAid stand mixers but she began her employment with Whirlpool, the parent company, as an intern working to complete her college coursework and found that Whirlpool helped her with her community college tuition, then with her bachelor’s degree and encouraged her to seek her MBA, after which they put her on KitchenAid’s senior leadership team.  In the business, this is what we call “growing your own” and it’s an absolutely powerful way to proceed when the company’s leadership spots talented young people who appear to have enduring potential.  Building on that potential, the company can assist and encourage these individuals to become impressively successful – both in their continuing to gain supportive formal education, as well as within the company.  Hanna reports that it would be next-to-impossible to lure her away from Whirlpool/KitchenAid – they have her enduring trust and respect.  And, what is important in this equation is that she repays them every day by functioning as a tremendous employee, both by running her division well and assisting those in her employ to emulate her fine work and do just service to the company, by valuing it.  When was the last time you heard someone who was employed at a large company talk about how much they appreciated the leadership there and enthuse about the fact that they go about about their business, daily, knowing that they need to make the company even better – ?  Never – ?  A long time ago – ?  Well, there’s a reason for that – it’s because leaders today tend to not well-understand the relationship between their employees and their company – and, as a result, they do very little to make the company personally attractive to each employee. Most employers tend to think that a paycheck is all that employees care about – although, if they followed current research they’d be disabused of this notion.  Employees care about a number of things, and one of them is the circumstance where they can come to value themselves, as an employee, as well as value the company, for having helped make that so.  Having employees that value your company and seek to make it an even bigger success is the be-all end-all of successful employee/company relationships.

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