"Walls or Windows: An Active Approach to a Superior Work Environment"By Karla Brandau, CEO, Workplace Power Institute

In light of the Wal-Mart Supreme Court ruling, Alison Davis, CEO of employee communications consulting firm, Davis & Co., said in an article in Workforce Management that the ruling does not mean business leaders can relax. She has spoken with many business leaders and they see the need for doing a better job of communicating their policies, sharing job opportunities and listening to employee concerns.

Davis said, “An active, thorough approach to good employee relations is all the more important in today’s climate of workers who use Facebook and Twitter. Complaints voiced by an employee in one location can grow into a groundswell quickly.”

So let’s get serious about employee job satisfaction and work to eliminate walls that cause waves of unrest among employees and to open windows of information that permit employees to function at higher levels of performance.

The Leadership Team’s Responsibility

The major burden rests on the leadership team for creating a climate of respect for employee abilities, expertise, and experience. If the senior leadership team sets the tone for a culture of honor and respect, then individual managers will treat their employees accordingly. There may be exceptions, but through proper modeling from executives, managers and supervisors will work at building professional relationships that open windows, permitting information to flow freely in the organization and motivate employees to greater productivity.

In a climate of honorable employee relations, employees use their free will and choose to engage in the company goals and objectives. Engagement is a personal choice that each employee makes on a daily basis.

When the climate and culture of the organization is controlling and directive, walls are erected and the choice to engage is made less frequently. Productivity suffers in the organization. Imagine the lackluster performance of a culture in which people only do enough work to keep from being fired, a frequent alternative to engagement in a hierarchal environment.

Remove Employee Blocks to Performance

You can become a charismatic leader that creates a positive employee environment (regardless of the behaviors of your leadership team) where workers choose to engage and give discretionary effort.

Here are some tips to help you become more influential and remove blocks to employees giving discretionary effort:

• Insist on honest exchanges between all employees, regardless of rank or position on the org chart. In order to get constructive feedback, not skewed, distorted or beat-around-the-bush answers, employees must know it is safe to tell the truth, that they will not be laughed at for off-track ideas or ostracized for a dissenting opinion.

• Teach your employees that disagreements are good and differences of opinions give seeds of concepts the chance to be watered, weeded, and fertilized, then harvested at maturity.

• Emphasize personal accountability. Help employees take ownership of their assignments by having a clear agreement on the shape, look, and feel of their finished task. Set a deadline with built in check points. If the deadline is missed, do not let employees play the blame game but encourage them to acknowledge their contribution and outline what they will do to get back on track.

• Get to know your workers personally so you can encourage them to higher performance in individual ways.

These tips for an active approach to superior employee relationships are just a few from the research for the forthcoming book, The 21st Century Social Contract which includes the RossBrandau Engagement and Discretionary Effort Leadership Model.



The Workplace Power Institute helps organizations be more competitive in the global marketplace by removing blocks to organizational productivity. Download a copy of the new RossBrandau Engagement and Discretionary Effort Leadership Model at www.KarlaBrandau.com/RossBrandauEDEModel. For program information and an invitation to Karla Brandau, CEO, to speak at your next conference, call 770-923-0883 or send an email to info@WorkplacePowerInstitute.com. Web site: www.WorkplacePowerInstitute.com.


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