In the previous blog post we talked about the personal steps you can take as a leader to build safety and a better culture. In this post we are going to look at the business steps. When I do personal business coaching in Houston and personal business coaching in The Woodlands the bigger challenges to building safety come in the business steps.
Why? The business steps determine the quality of person you bring in the door and ultimately employ. You can bring in people who meet the experience and education qualifications, yet if they are not willing or good at connecting, it will be a never-ending challenge to build a safe and good culture.
The first business step is to be absolutely focused on your hiring process. This is the gateway to bringing in the right people or those who are not a fit. And this alone, can bring you long-term success or failure. I had one company as a client that grew rapidly and as a result became less meticulous in their hiring process. Where before they hired people for management positions who were likeable and qualified, they settled on a different course during rapid growth. They hired people who were qualified but not necessarily likeable or connectors.
These managers have to work together to address problems, resolve audit deficiencies and other problematic situations. To say the least, getting these people to collaborate and work together has been a challenge with limited success. People who work for these managers no longer feel safe. No one wants to take the risk of an independent thought for fear of reprimand, or in the case of a couple of managers who are very insecure, being fired, because the managers see their intelligence and problem-solving approach as a threat to their leadership.
Here’s the second business step. Let’s say you have a very good hiring process. You are still going to have some bad apples. Sometimes these occur when a company grows and as a result an employee’s responsibilities change. The employee is a good person but cannot adapt to change. Therefore, they become a liability to the culture. Other times, we just make mistakes in the hiring process. Regardless, the worst thing to do is not act. As a leader, people expect you to look out for their welfare and safety. Bad apples do not create a safe environment. Get rid of them.
The third step is not one that every business can do. Create spaces that maximize interaction. As a business coach, I encourage companies, when possible to rearrange an area or an office to where there is the potential for more interaction. Increased visibility adds to the potential for greater contact and more connections. Very often, it is those unexpected encounters that lead to meaningful conversations. Office design, where possible can help this.
The fourth business step is to make sure everyone has ownership. In short, everyone must feel that their voice can be heard. In businesses that encourage the personal development of their employees, it is very hard to develop if you don’t have an atmosphere that encourages and wants your input. The only way you learn, and grow from what you learn, is to take the action to put your thoughts out there and to see what the response is. Businesses that create a safe place for this to happen increase their employees’ sense of ownership, their feeling that they matter and their loyalty.
One other point to consider as a leader. Be human. Show that nothing is beneath you. Ray Kroc who founded McDonald’s was meticulous about picking up trash in the office that had missed the waste paper basket.
Follow the business steps above and show your humanity. When you do you will be taking the necessary steps to building a better culture.