Measure the Right Thing, Not the Easy Thing

It’s very easy to measure the cost of an employee’s salary to the company. It’s much more difficult to measure the employee’s worth.

From the employee’s point of view it’s also easy to measure their salary but much more difficult to measure their satisfaction with the job.

In both cases, which do you think is the more relevant factor?

Salary and benefits are important…up to a point. Yes, everyone has needs that have to be met but at some point, and that will vary for each person, money ceases to be a prime motivator. Job satisfaction will be a much more powerful motivator… it will determine whether they stay, increase their perform, strive for a higher position or leave for greener pastures.

Another key factor of job satisfaction is how the employee’s like and interact with their colleagues and a third key factor is how they balance their work with their private lives, their families and their personal interests.

Employees are not numbers, they’re human beings with hopes, dreams, feelings, aspirations and problems. Make sure you account for that in developing your culture.

It is not uncommon to find in survey after survey, from a wide variety of sources, that employees who quit their jobs said the No. 1 reason they did so was due to a lack of career advancement opportunities. This reason ranked higher in job dissatisfaction than pay and benefits.

How Do You Know You’re Doing the Right Thing if You Don’t Measure It and Then Compare the Results in a Future Time Period?
Entrepreneurs must first identify the key elements that compose their company’s culture. Then they must use either objective or subjective measurements to evaluate those elements.

Objective measurements such as production output or “sick days” are fairly easy to obtain. Subjective measurements such as job satisfaction, pride in the company’s product or happiness is much more difficult. Many will argue that it’s impossible to measure those things accurately. However, measuring subjective cultural characteristics like job satisfaction can be reasonably measured, though not with the same accuracy, on a subjective scale of 1 to 10 as stated by your employees. Here, it’s not the absolute number that is critical, it’s how that number changes from period to period. Once you see a pattern of which direction a subjective element is heading, you can create and implement a plan to change it or support it.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Recognize that all people are different and respond to different incentives. Further, what may work for one person at one point in their life may have no effect as they move to a different stage. Example: A woman who never traveled may go above and beyond to win a trip to Europe but that same woman a year after she gives birth to her first child needs to be home and she may appreciate a full time housekeeper or a cash payment toward her child’s education… a reward that would have no incentive whatsoever to a single woman or one whose children have already graduated from college.

Organizations often try to encourage one type of behavior but wind up rewarding the opposite type of behavior. This causes confusion and worse, resentment as they see others getting rewarded for doing what they’re not supposed to do. Example: Most companies say they want employees to work as a team but pay people based on individual performance.

Regardless how much you budget for rewards and incentives don’t make the mistake of just giving cash to your employees. Instead choose a variety of methods based on what is important to your employees and if you don’t know… just ask. They’ll tell you but in addition, you’ll find one of the most influential rewards won’t cost you anything… recognition.

What If Your Company’s Culture Isn’t What You Want It To Be?

The sooner you recognize the problem the better and the sooner you make the decision to change it the better.

Sorry, No Matter What You Culture and How Enthusiastically It Has Been Accepted, Change is Inevitable

New people, from different backgrounds, changing economic and competitive factors, aging of your workforce and changing fashion and cultural tastes will affect your company’s culture and you may be forced to upgrade, improve, revise or possibly trash certain aspects and start anew. When this happens, know this, there’s no quick fix that can be implemented. Changing the culture of an organization is difficult, costly and time consuming. It takes effort and time to communicate, patience to overcome resistance to change and a relentless determination to overcome all the obstacles that will ultimately be placed in your path by those that are both satisfied with the status quo and those that are uncomfortable with any type of change.

In cases like that, I recommend two diametrically opposed options depending on the entrepreneur and the severity of the situation and how fast the change needs to be implemented.

In one alternative, it may be wise to introduce many small changes over a longer period of time. In the other alternative you may have to make major changes that should be implemented immediately.

That’s just one of the tough decisions entrepreneurs have to make. Who said all your decisions will be fun, easy and accepted by all?

Whether you’re just building or changing your company’s culture, be aware that it takes time to make them endemic. It could and oftentimes takes years to ingrain these concepts into your employees. Entrepreneurs are often impatient about how long it takes to get things done properly, but the reality is that certain things take time and good managers can shorten that time but even great managers can’t eliminate time.

By accepting this reality, entrepreneurs can do a much better job of encouraging and effecting the change process. Change will most often elicit new problems and challenges that need to be overcome. Sometimes it is unavoidable to have to take one step backwards in order to take two steps forward. And while the idea of the new paradigm may be exciting, in time its luster may fade somewhat and it will be important for managers to reinvigorate the troops and get them recommitted to the company’s long-term vision.