Michael Bush, CEO of A Great Place to Work For All, firmly believes in treating employees well. Michael says it’s not only the right thing to do, but treating employees fairly bears economic fruit which, in turn, creates the freedom for a business to grow without limit. Michael has crunched the data behind this concept, and he’s learned that what may be a great place to work for one person (think: straight white male) may not be so great for someone else (think: gay black female). Question is, how can employers create an equitable workplace for all?
During an interview with QB Community leader @LeslieBarber at QB Connect 2017, Michael, who also analyzes corporations and creates the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list, shared his wisdom about taking good care of employees. Based on their conversation, we’ve consolidated his insights (and edited them for length) to eight key tips.
1. Remember employees are human beings: “You have to treat people with respect, credibility and fairness -- in the way you speak to people, listen to people, thank people, in the way you recognize people. These are the best practices for making sure people feel like they are being treated like a person rather than an employee.”
2. Encourage employees to learn from their mistakes: “If an employee makes a mistake, we ask a question. ‘Do you feel like you can make an honest mistake?’ When people believe it’s a fair environment, they will say ‘yes.’ When it’s not, they will say, ‘No, we don’t think you can make an honest mistake here.’ Fairness shapes the perception of the work experience.”
3. Look beyond financials to build a healthy work culture: “You have to recognize, reward and promote leaders based on the culture they create and how they develop people, not just based on ‘what we have done.’ The financial return is overemphasized. We have not emphasized enough the other things that make a great company. We’ve put far too much importance on just the financials.”
4. Hire slowly -- every employee helps form the company culture: “Businesses break up because there is a ‘values-mismatch’ amongst the people. They have different beliefs about their approach to work, how people should be treated, how customers should be treated, what they’re willing or not willing to do to help the business. That’s why you have to hire slowly -- because your culture starts to take shape with hire number one … and number two … and number three …”
5. Sunday night, get your business head on: “On Sunday night I’m going to think about the values of the company and whether we’re living them or not. I’m gonna’ think about my cash flow, my profitability, my business strategy and about what’s going on around me. What are others doing? What do I need to consider? I think about the people I’ve hired and the culture that has been created. I think about how we’re structured and organized. I think about my own leadership. I have been doing this every Sunday night for 30 years. It takes me about half an hour. But the payoff is freedom.”
6. Monday morning, communicate to create confidence: “Consistency is more important than frequency in terms of communicating the purpose and values of the business and sharing when the business is doing well and where it’s coming up short. You have to communicate about goals and specifically recognize some individual efforts. If you do this consistently and carefully, people start to feel the culture is okay, there is no preferred group here, the leader is communicating to everyone equally. Employees realize, ‘Wow, maybe I do have an opportunity here and a voice like everyone else.’”
7. Protect company culture as your business grows: “When a business is growing fast, the company’s culture changes a lot. People start to lose confidence in management’s ability to lead the company when, say, you go from ten to 20 employees. If you are not working really hard on the culture and remaining consistent with your weekly check-ins, then things will change. But it’s a heck of a lot of work!”
8. A great workplace improves life for the boss, too: “If you’re looking to break through to being a great entrepreneur, a great partner, a great parent and a great societal member, here’s how you can unlock it. Create an equitable, fair work culture so you can leave for vacation and not worry. You can actually have a great life if you unlock the people."
QB Community members, how do you create a fair and equitable workplace that is great for all?