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While analyzing a study of 300,000 people employed at high-performing companies, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of the new book All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, found a vital commonality: a culture in which employees believe in their company and their leaders. Want to empower your workplace? Consider these tips.
“Agility is about how a manager deals with the organization’s mission, opportunities, and threats—and how he or she helps employees embrace them,” Elton says. “Post-recession, Hard Rock Cafe had a goal of adding $150 million to its bottom line. Rather than managers saying to staff, ‘We’ve got to grow by $150 million,’ they brought it down to the employees by telling them they needed to make 50 cents more on every check. That’s being agile; that’s showing people how to respond to a need.”
Go For Gratitude
“The best managers we studied made sure every person they worked with frequently felt praised,” Gostick says. “They weren’t handing out keys to European sports cars; they were simply saying thank you. Jackson Healthcare in Atlanta has an online brag box that allows employees to electronically commend one another. Reward and recognition like this drives engagement and boosts achievement.”
Don’t Get Comfy
“The attitude used to be If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Elton adds. “Now, it’s If it ain’t broke, break it—or someone else will break it for you. You have to turn threats into opportunities. When Toyota showed up in the automobile industry in the ’60s, it created a reputation of controlled costs and improved quality. Rather than emulating that model, GM turned its head. It stuck to its existing methods and didn’t implement efficiency-driven improvements until the ’80s. By then it was too late.”
“One of the things we heard a lot in our research was ‘My boss stays in his office all day and I never see him,’” Gostick says. “But leaders at the best companies weren’t like this. At American Express’ call center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, managers spent 75 percent of their time with their employees. They had the highest employee engagement scores in the company’s nearly 70,000-person system.”
“People want to feel like they can grow,” Gostick concludes. “And they want to know that they’re cared about. One of our favorite leaders is Scott O’Neil, president of Madison Square Garden Sports. When he hires someone, he asks, ‘Where do you want to be in five years? If I help you get there, will you give 110 percent every day?’ Through their careers, he meets with them regularly to make sure they’re progressing—and giving everything they’ve got.”
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