My letter for this week's Write A Letter Wednesday goes to someone who is in a position of authority...
I've been thinking about that letter you sent out telling your staff all about how much each employee actually earns over and above their take home pay if you count what all the benefits cost the company, etc. I know that's true, there's a lot of expense involved in maintaining enough staff to keep your business going strong. Watching costs is important too, just as you say. Those dimes and dollars do add up, and it takes a lot of sales to cover them before profit can be realized.
The thing I think your staff would like to see though, is a letter telling them what a valuable asset THEY are to the company, and how each and every one of them is essential to making sure things run smoothly in the work areas, sales departments and offices. You've got a really good group of people assembled there, caring folks who work hard at their jobs. They also know how to treat your customers right so they will keep coming back and word of mouth will bring in new folks. It's important that your staff feel valued and appreciated, not just by the occasional meal or note card, but on a regular basis with a lot of one-on-one feedback and encouragement!
We were raised in a generation that still believed in company loyalty and respecting bosses. Back then, you did what the boss said or you were out the door! I still believe in respecting those in authority, but I think it needs to work both ways. Your employees also to want to be treated with trust and respect, and they want to be acknowledged for their dedication and work.
I've heard that lately the feeling has gone 'round that you've been on some kind of mission to seek out "evildoers" amongst the staff, those who might be trying to cheat you or steal from you, or pull something off that isn't right. I'm all for no-nonsense in the workplace, I'm a believer in rules and enforcing them. There are definitely times where the boss needs to step up and "clean house" and make sure everyone is playing on the team. But I think it becomes a problem if you lose your basic trust in your employees in general, if you start to feel like no one measures up to your expectations and work ethic. Staff notice an undertone of suspicion an dissatisfaction, and they begin to feel restless and unhappy too.
There may be one or two bad apples in the bunch, I suppose there usually is; but the great majority of your folks are good people who are proud of where they work. They do their best for you and for their own sense of self-respect. If people feel that they are chronically unappreciated or under suspicion and surveillance, they began to react, just like someone being followed too closely by a police patrol car begins to get jittery and drive erratically in response.
Stability is an important factor in leading a group of people. Everybody has their good days and not so great days and bosses are allowed those too, but your employees want to see and believe that you are functioning on an even keel, and aren't likely to go off at unexpected moments. They tell me that you used to be more easy going, telling a few jokes now and then, and spending some time visiting and letting them know it was ok to enjoy working together, to have fun while the work is getting done. It sure makes it nicer to come to work if you don't have to worry about someone glowering in the halls or frowning disapprovingly over your shoulder!
I've heard from some of the folks that they are wondering if something is wrong in your world. Do you feel well? Is everything alright at home? It's not that anybody is being nosy, it's just that you seem mighty serious and somewhat distracted... maybe even unhappy. I doubt if it's about the company's stability. Business is booming! Compared to where it was a year ago, everyone has much to be thankful for.
We all go thru things in our personal lives that are just that - personal, but it's really important that we try to keep it from interfering with our work relationships and activities. Everyone in the company is on the same ship, and the best way to prevent the boat from rocking or the sailors from staging a mutiny is to show strong, effective, positive leadership. I can't emphasize the positive aspect enough! Workers respond best to encouragement and support.
While it's an important part of your job to point out where changes and improvements are necessary, it's equally important to tell your employees what you see going right and what you see them doing that you think benefits the company. I don't mean big splashy efforts, just simple one-on-one "attaboys" round the house now and then. It would make all the difference and I promise you'll see it result in happier, more cooperative, and more productive staff.
Your employees ARE grateful that they have jobs, just as you say they should be, and they know they work for a good company, just remember to let them know now and then that YOU are grateful you have them!
Be sure to stop by "Write A Letter Wednesday" and see what other folks have written. Get brave and write your own letter this week and add a link!