This is part 2 of my Excellence in the Workplace series. I invite you to read the first part if you haven’t: Establish a Culture of Excellence in the Workplace: It’s All About Customer Service
Achieving excellence in the workplace requires ongoing employee engagement. Providing unbeatable customer service and standing out in a sea of competing businesses is a big job. Employees have to be engaged in your mission, and they need daily motivation to stay engaged.
How to Keep Employees Engaged?
How do you keep employees engaged? It’s a fair question for CEOs to answer. If I ask myself what drives Al Hartman to be engaged at work every day, I’m asking the wrong question. What engages employers is not the same as what engages employees.
Motivating and Engaging Employees
In general, employees respond well to motives and objectives — not orders and directions. We can see an example of this in the real world by looking at the success of the $8 million employee profit-sharing program we established here at Hartman.
By offering a financial incentive, tied to employees’ performance, we built a framework for motivating and engaging employees. They now want to improve performance to achieve their new goal, and the inevitable answer to the question of how they improved performance directly ties back to better customer service. The result was higher engagement — the kind you simply cannot foster with orders from a supervisor.
Achieving Excellent Workplace Culture Drives Engagement
Horst Schulze, a board member of Hartman Income REIT Management Inc. and co-founder of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., has a lot to say about workplace culture and engagement in his book, “Excellence Wins.” Mr. Schulze writes, “If the culture of your organization isn’t right, it will devour your best-laid plans.” I now live by this quotation. At Hartman, our employees are our greatest assets, and if they believe that Al Hartman and the senior managers have failed them by building a workplace culture that falls flat, we will not succeed.
We must support the workplace culture we want every day. That’s why daily reinforcement in the form of departmental huddles is so critical. At Hartman, every department has a brief daily meeting, during which team members discuss good news, the day’s top priorities and the objectives they are stuck on. I have seen it with my own eyes too many times to count: these meetings drive camaraderie, collaboration and, ultimately, employee engagement.
Your company’s version of this will be unique, but the basic principles will remain. In my book, “The Power of Proven Results,” I go into great detail about how organizations can foster environments that encourage and celebrate great ideas.
It’s Down to Leadership
Every member of an organization has a stake in supporting a culture of excellence in the workplace, but real, measurable accountability rests with the leadership. Not all business leaders instinctively understand the task of measuring company culture. The good news is that this process can be learned.
To help Hartman’s leaders, we have implemented Teamalytics. With a focus on awareness, accountability and acceleration, the Teamalytics process enables all team members to assess and understand their own counterproductive workplace behaviors. Then, it gives them a defined pathway to reversing those behaviors. We use the program to create strong leaders who expertly navigate the gap between themselves and their teams to drive engagement, loyalty and productivity.
Building Your Organization’s Leadership
Excellence in the workplace can come from many places and look several different ways, but as the leader of your organization, you can control your company’s path to excellence by building a strong leadership culture. Leadership is an acquired skill — to say you either have it or you don’t is a fallacy that can wreck your chance of achieving excellence in the workplace before the race has even begun.
I don’t want anyone who works for Hartman Income REIT to think that Al Hartman settles for less than this organization’s best. To make sure that never happens, it’s the responsibility of myself and the other senior leaders to let nothing cloud our vision.
This year, our goal is to reach 85% occupancy in our properties. As we work to achieve it, we will rely on the strategies that have led to our growth so far:
- Remember that everyone is important.
- Always break the mold.
- Make your people your brand.
- Train everyone thoroughly.
- Eliminate hassles.
- Learn the truth.
- Treat employees (and their families) well.
- Stay ahead of the pack.
- Be careful with your actions and words.
- Develop character.
These strategies are outlined in both my book and Hartman’s mission and vision statements. In your company, feel free to put your versions of these strategies up on the walls, but don’t let that be the last effort you make. Do as Mr. Schulze advises in his book: make sure your mission and vision are firmly held beliefs that are woven into and throughout your workplace culture.
We do this at Hartman by being extremely selective when hiring. We only hire those who believe in our company culture and want to strengthen it. For those who do meet our strict standards, we model total accountability, give no excuses and always keep our word.
Measuring Company Culture for Achieving Excellence in the Workplace
Measuring company culture is not an easy task. But to have true excellence in the workplace, you must find a way to measure it so you can improve it. In his book, Mr. Schulze gives a framework for measuring culture inside a company with these criteria:
- Strategic planning
- Customer and market focus
- Measurement, analysis and knowledge management
- Human resource focus
- Process management
- Business results
No single one of those criteria can truly function at its highest capacity without the other. Leadership sets the tone. Strategic planning paves the way. Customer and market focus ensure revenue. Measurement and analysis provide actionable data. Human resources foster employee engagement. Process management makes us more efficient. And business results are what we’re all chasing.
As Mr. Schulze says, “It’s not guesswork; it’s not subjective opinion.” Indeed, it isn’t. It is real, measurable and fact-based. And it all comes together to create true excellence in the workplace. If at the end of my career people associate the name Al Hartman with this kind of excellence, I will be beyond happy.
If you want a company that produces positive results and a powerful reputation, you must take a step back, measure your realities and adjust when needed. That is how you build a company of excellence.
Thank you to Mr. Schulze for writing such an inspiring book that so expertly captures what all CEOs are working toward and gives us a roadmap for getting there. If you would like more inspiring reading about company culture and excellence in the workplace, check out my book, “The Power of Proven Results,” by Al Hartman.
Workplace excellence is always worth the work — never forget it, never lose sight of it.