One of my favorite comedians is Bill Engvall, who does the “Here’s Your Sign” gags. According to Wikipedia, “Engvall describes people who ask questions to which the answers should be obvious, and in the process, Engvall shows these people to be stupid. With the tag, “Here’s Your Sign”, Engvall then metaphorically gives these people a sign declaring their stupidity as a warning to others interacting with this person.” (e.g. “A couple of months ago I went fishing with a buddy of mine. As we pulled his boat into the dock, I lifted up this big ‘ol stringer of bass and this idiot on the dock goes, ‘Hey, y’all catch all them fish?’ Nope. Talked ’em into giving up.”).
Just as Engvall metaphorically awards people’s signs of stupidity, other arenas of life give off similar warning signs that can be just as easily identified if we’re paying attention.
As business managers and/or owners, we all like to think we’ve got a pulse on employee morale, which is a critical component to how successful a business is. As someone who makes a living knowing what makes customers loyal, I know for a fact that if a business’ employees aren’t happy, chances are that business will not have happy customers. Front line employee interactions with customers can make or break those customer experiences. Unhappy customers lead to fewer repeat customers and referrals, which eventually impacts the bottom line.
Yet occasionally, even the best business owners and managers are guilty of becoming overly absorbed with a particular issue, burying their head in the sand in response to a problem or just being too darn busy to pay attention. They may miss those signs that should warn them when dysfunction is stealthily creeping into their corporate culture, ready to apply a long, slow choke-hold that will lead to revenue decline.
So, in case you haven’t been paying attention to your corporate culture lately, here’s your sign!
1) If you haven’t changed with the times, here’s your sign! If the higher-ups at your store continue to do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done, or if they refuse to consider a new technology or marketing program because “we sold plenty of cars twenty years ago without that,” they need to get with the times. Today’s marketplace is very different than it was twenty years ago.
2) If you change with the times every week, here’s your sign! In contrast to never changing with the times, some managers change direction every week based on an article they read, a suggestion from a friend, news that a competitor is doing something or even just on which way the wind blows. Sending employees scrambling in a different direction every week is counter-productive. Set long term goals, set programs and processes in place and stick with them for at least six months to give them a chance.
3) If it takes too long to get stuff approved, here’s your sign! Efficient businesses demand efficient processes. If it takes a committee to get anything approved, or if employees aren’t following the processes in place, it’s a problem and there’s probably a reason. Do your processes need to be reviewed? What’s really slowing down employee productivity?
4) If you’re not rewarding your employees for innovation or hard work, here’s your sign! In general, it’s fair to expect employees to do their job without complaint. But if someone comes up with an innovative idea, or if an employee delivers results that you know must have taken extra hard work, reward them! Nobody wants to work somewhere if they don’t feel appreciated.
5) If you have high turnover, here’s your sign! Now I realize that the retail and automotive industries have higher turnover than most, but why is that? If you have more employees quitting than are leaving because of lay-offs, chances are there’s something wrong with your corporate culture. What is it? Conducting exit surveys is one way to find out, or it may just require a little digging.
Fostering a positive work environment makes for happy employees, which in turn leads to happy-and loyal-customers.
Have you taken a close look at your corporate culture lately?
What do you think are signs of poor employee morale?