Organizational health encompasses the organization in its entirety, its people, systems, assets and many other components. But at every organization’s core are its good employees. But what is a “good” employee? One that performs, follows directives, interacts well with others, is motivated, accountable…the list can go on at length. The challenge is to get them trained, productive and engaged and keep them so. After observing organizational behavior for many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that an employee will “optimize” and stay with an organization if three conditions are met: 1) they feel valued; 2) they feel respected; and 3) they feel fulfilled. If any of these are missing, the organization is missing out.
Feeling valued: What’s it like to feel valued? It’s the feeling that you are important, your work is worth something, you make a significant contribution. There may definitely be an intrinsic sense of value that an employee derives from their work, but surely things like compensation, rewards and recognition play a vital part. Paying employee their worth, both from a market driven wage and from an internal equity standpoint is essential. It’s also fair. Rewards can take the shape of a bonus, a perk, a congratulatory note, a lunch or even a “great job” pat on the back. Research shows that positive feedback is much more effective than negative feedback, and it’s easy!
Feeling respected…What’s it like to feel respected? It’s being treated with human decency, no matter the situation at hand. Common courtesy, consideration of the employee’s feelings and healthy interactions contribute to a feeling of respect. It can be tricky…particularly when emotions are high or the treatment isn’t mutual. Respect is THE most important element of a disciplinary action or a termination. Just put yourself in their shoes.
Feeling fulfilled…What’s it like to feel fulfilled? This one is a bit more elusive. You can pay well, reward well and give all the positive feedback in the world, but at some point, the employee may feel that they want or need something more out of their work. It will usually be a new and better opportunity, but could be travel, going back to school, or some unrelated employment change. Here it’s best to know your employee well. Sometimes you may know what they want, but if you don’t show an interest in them, you may be caught off guard.
Know your employee. Understand what excites and motivates him/her. Know what personal challenges they are experiencing at work as well as outside of work. The ”old rule” was to separate personal and work issues. However, Patrick Lencioni, in a recent interview with the Society of Human Resource Management, suggests that we practice exactly the opposite. He contends that it is virtually impossible for an employee experiencing difficulties outside of work, to park them at the door and act totally different at work. When you understand what’s going on, you can better manage the work performance and help the employee. And the result is invaluable. Talk about building loyalty!
Organizational health clearly hinges on an engaged, collaborative, productive team of employees. Take time to contemplate the valued, respected and fulfilled notion…it’s some work but you reap it back in spades.