In the movies, it’s tempting to root for the bad guy. Loving to hate the villain keeps the plot rolling and our pulses racing. And we can do it guilt free, because we know the bad guy always gets his (or hers) in the end.
In the world of business, having a bad guy reputation in the eyes of your employees can be just as fatal as any on-screen shootout. And, thanks to company review websites such as Glassdoor.com – not to mention your employees’ own Twitter feeds – discontent can quickly spread far beyond cubicle walls.
But it’s more than just your reputation that’s at stake. Having a clear understanding of how happy your employees are (or aren’t) has just as big of an impact on your financial bottom line. Need proof? Read on to learn about some of the biggest bad guys in business.
Worst of the Worst
In contrast to “Best Company” write ups, 24/7 Wall St. recently released its annual “America’s Worst Companies to Work For” report (Thomas C. Frolic and Douglas A. McIntyre). The authors extrapolated data from amongst the millions of anonymous reviews posted on Glassdoor.com to identify the worst of the worst for employee satisfaction. As it turns out, there’s much to learn from this “how-not-to” manual of employee management.
#11 – Radio Shack: This spring, Radio Shack announced closure of 200 stores. No surprise, given its stock value has declined 45% in the last year alone.
Clearly, the company faces huge challenges as a small brick-and-mortar store in an Amazon.com/Big Box world. But Radio Shack’s outmoded business model also extends to its handling of employees. Inadequate hours, low benefits, overworked management and incredibly low ratings of senior leadership indicate a company that’s not prioritizing its human capital.
#3 – Frontier Communications: Actually, Frontier does consider its relationship with its employees. In fact, it considers that relationship to be good. That’s unfortunate, because its employees don’t share that opinion. Many reviews on Glassdoor.com echo this sentiment: “…Senior Leadership Team has no desire to listen to anyone’s feedback whatsoever.”
Anyone sense a disconnect? What is connected, however, is the company’s poor management philosophy and its decline in revenue, down from $5.2 billion to $4.8 billion over the last three years.
#1 – Books-A-Million: Only 14% of employees said they would recommend working at Books-A-Million. Culture and values were rated just 1.8 out of 5…and only 22% of employees think the company’s CEO 22% is doing a good job. Ouch.
Again, this company has its work cut out for it, competing against larger chains and online giants – but complaints about high stress, low pay and little opportunity for advancement contribute to a less than bright prospect for turnaround.
Making Glassdoor.com Your Friend
Obviously, these are extreme examples. As such, it might be easy for you to assume that you have no such concerns in your business.
But is it a viable long-term strategy to risk your revenue and reputation on assumptions? As with any other aspect of your business, a specific, hands-on plan is the only way to ensure your employees are challenged, happy and contributing to your success.
Consider these four basic steps and forever keep the “Worst of” list at bay:
1) Stop Assuming – Start Asking!
During a leadership roundtable in which I took part, a small business owner was speaking about impending changes for one of his key employees – changes he was certain the employee would welcome. Until I started asking some clarifying questions, that is.
“Do you know this is what he wants?” I queried.
“I’m pretty sure this is what he wants,” he responded.
“Well…have you asked him?
“No,” he replied, “why would I? I know this guy. I’ve worked with him for three years!”
Now, it’s possible that said employer did have high familiarity with this employee. By the end of our exchange, however, the realization struck that he was ultimately just making assumptions.
So, let’s talk about how to start asking the right questions.
2) Do a Survey
Hands down, the most effective way to head off a problem before it starts – or to get to the bottom of unrest that’s already percolating – is simply to ask. A survey that probes your staff’s attitude (by examining key drivers of engagement) is the place to begin.
The survey isn’t the end of the conversation – it’s just the beginning. It’s imperative to have a prescriptive plan for following up on the data. A great way to begin is with a series of roundtable discussions.
4) Personalized Conversations
Now, we come to the third leg of the stool: Have one-on-one conversations. Often.
Your people need to feel like there’s an open door policy when it comes to discussing issues before or as they arise – and it’s up to you to encourage those employees who might otherwise hide out in wait for the next anonymous survey.
Your Script for Being the Good Guy
Hollywood glamor aside: In real life, none of us wants to be the bad guy (or gal). In addition to the steps I’ve outlined, following are two great reads that will help you keep on wearing the white hat:
- Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want (Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulion)
- Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay (Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans)