Jennifer Holley : Maintaining Your Assets

I met Jennifer Holley several years ago when she was the Manager of The Country Club at Wynn Las Vegas and I was Director of Hotel Operations also at Wynn.  We immediately connected and have been friends ever since.  I value my relationship with Jen so very much and find that we often get in conversations about work ethic, commitment, and empathy.  Plus, she’s super fun to go shopping with!

 I asked Jen if she would offer some words of wisdom on encouraging leaders to create an amazing employee and customer experience.  As expected, she knocked it out of the park!

 Thank you Jen for your contribution, and please, enjoy Jen’s article:


Now that Alyse has set the stage and we have outlined a company culture that supports a healthy work environment, trust, motivation, empowerment and accountability, I want to discuss how we create longevity and sustainability of that environment. Specifically, what is being done to motivate the motivators?

Companies commit time and resources to recruiting and capturing management talent but they often fall short in nurturing and inspiring the talent once they’ve gotten them. You can have the best foundation in place for your company, but if your leaders do not feel a personal connection to your company goals or vision, eventually it will negatively impact your employees and ultimately your customers. Have you ever heard the phrase “People quit their bosses, not their jobs”? Managers leave because on some level, they do not feel connected or valued. Connecting with your leaders can be accomplished in some of the simplest ways. Let’s break it down into three different categories: Time, Talent and Treasure.

Time

The best example of using time as a way to connect with leaders comes from a large corporation where I previously worked. Our Executive Vice President would schedule a lunch or coffee with a different member of management from his team once a month. This allowed the EVP an opportunity to learn about his subordinates in a way that a department meeting would never permit, and it provided the manager direct access to a member of the Executive Team. The investment is minimal, but the impact is tremendous.

Talent

In a well-rounded management team, each person has a unique set of strengths. It’s zoning in on those strengths and identifying how they can be leveraged that can help build connection with your team. One way to leverage individual strengths for the success of the team is to identify a challenge one of your teams is currently facing. Identify a team that is excelling in that area and assign the head of the successful team a ‘special project presentation’ to explain their success and possible hurdles they had to overcome to get there. Then provide a forum to workshop, brainstorm and collaborate. By encouraging peer information sharing in a structured and measured way, you find approachable solutions to obstacles and challenges, highlight valuable talent within your team, and make your teams feel valuable and empowered.

Treasure

Not every company can afford raises, profit sharing or 401k matches. There are creative methods to recognize employees that are meaningful (and effective) and do not require a large investment. For example, my company awards each manager with an additional $100 for every year they have worked with the company, on the anniversary of their hire date. It is accompanied with a card with personal sentiments of gratitude hand-written by our owners and CEO. They also send hand-written cards for birthdays to each manager. My husband’s company also sends hand-written cards with personal sentiments and a gift card (for coffee or lunch) from the CEO on birthdays and work anniversaries. If you are able, award experiences or products as incentives, better aligning your team with the experiences of your customers.  Any of these methods inspire pride and validation. In turn, your team is more inclined to remain loyal to the company and motivated to contribute at a higher level.

Good leaders inspire, motivate and encourage. When they feel supported, valuable and appreciated, their spark is ignited. It is paramount to find ways to support their spark to prevent them from burning out or disconnecting all together.  Having a clear plan in place to continuously connect with your management team will ensure that their personal growth is aligned with the growth of your company. It does not have to cost a lot, but the return on investment is priceless.

Please join the conversation….

 

Vol VIII: Creating a Recognition Program

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In last week’s article, Motivating through Recognition, I discussed the importance of recognizing employees as a form of gratitude and a teaching tool. One of my suggestions was to personalize the recognition, to make it more meaningful for the person receiving it. This week, I’d like to share the guidelines I follow when setting up a recognition program that helps make it meaningful.

Do you even need a recognition program?

It’s OK to ask if it’s necessary, but ask yourself these questions:

  • Is recognition happening consistently?
  • Can others learn by example?
  • Do your employees FEEL like they are being recognized?

If each answer is not an immediate “yes” – then putting a recognition program in place could reinforce those behaviors until they become habit and are happening organically and consistently.

Is recognition sustained?

There is nothing worse than starting a great recognition program, making a few people feel really special, and then having it be forgotten or lost to other priorities. Having a process that is open and communicated will ensure recognition is sustained.

Here are some questions to ask about any process you set up:

  • Is it explicit that leaders look for opportunities to recognize as part of their normal routine?
  • Is recognition documented, staying with employees for future opportunities like promotion or annual evaluations?
  • Do employees know what your form of recognition looks like?
  • How is recognition shared with others so that they can learn from it?

Answering these questions can help lead you down a path to determine if your recognition program is sustainable, purposeful and deliberate.

Is recognition personalized?

Many companies use employee profile systems to allow for staff to express their personal preferences, whether it’s their favorite coffee order, their hobbies or any other information which you can use to personalize the recognition experience if they are to be recognized and thanked for a job well done.

A couple of low/no budget examples:

  • For an employee who likes to read, maybe instead of a traditional thank you card, you create a fun ‘thank you’ bookmark.
  • To recognize someone who takes a regular “coffee break” maybe you can accompany them to get their favorite coffee drink.
  • For someone who offers ideas at meetings, maybe providing some one-on-one time with decision makers so they know their ideas are being listened to.

By learning from and listening to your team members, you have the opportunity to personalize your recognition.

Is recognition fair?

People who are consistent high performers may get recognized multiple times, and you don’t want to play favorites, but it’s not true recognition if everyone “gets a turn” regardless of their contribution.

Here are a couple of ways I look to balance recognition:

  • Recognizing an improvement rather than an absolute contribution.
  • Recognize someone who was able to think outside their normal boundaries for a solution.
  • Recognize someone who is consistent and dependable.

If you have no reason to recognize an employee, you should consider whether they need coaching to get the behaviors you want to reward. The communication, attention, consistency, and support you provide will likely make a significant difference in their job performance.

Recognition connects people

People want to feel connected to people and personalizing recognition helps build relationships. In thinking about recognition, remember that not everything happens naturally and sometimes you have to be deliberate. By creating a program that is sustainable, consistent, personalized, and fair, you can ensure that your employees feel appreciated and valued.

SE II: You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone

609-employee-satisfaction-billboardI am lucky to call some amazing women my friends.  On a recent evening out, one of these amazing friends shared her story of leaving a company she was at for 10 years after being recruited within her industry.  On her last day she was told she is on the short list for a promotion and they offered her more money to stay.

Another smart woman at the table, a lawyer, shared that when she left her firm in NYC to move to Chicago, again after being recruited by another firm, she was offered junior partner to stay.

So why didn’t either of these companies make their appreciation for these employees known prior to them being wooed by another?

Do you feel appreciated at work?  Are you having conversations about your next steps?  Are you having conversations with your employees (if you have direct reports)?

You may think your team will stay with you even without praise or advancement… but when there’s a knock at the door, what do you think they would do?

So, employers: Make it a practice to give regular feedback to your employees.  Be honest, even if it’s not all good, chances are by building awareness you’ll get better performance.  Also, be fair in terms of compensation. If you are willing to pay more to keep someone after they tell you they are leaving, would you be willing to pay to show your appreciation for their continued loyalty (before someone else comes calling)?