In terms of workplace behavior there is often the expectation among some employees that they can get away with a lot, that a great many infractions or short-cuts can happen, and that it doesn’t really matter if the boss doesn’t see what’s going on.
The attitude goes further to suggest that even if the boss sees the irresponsible behavior, it, too, is not important unless s/he starts counting to three, the way people do with their kids.
Warnings can all be ignored, it seems – it’s all background noise until the counting begins.
It’s sad when this type of thing happens in a company, because when you scratch below the surface of an infraction, what you actually find is a lack of communication, and this has implications well beyond any one incident.
Engagement Means Employees Are Reliable:
They work consistently, they do the tasks expected of them as per their job descriptions, they accept help when needed and they show initiative. Engagement means actively participating in company meetings, having a positive attitude towards the company and towards team members, and reading the company’s weekly summary email, which we call Qualivision.
We take pride in the Qualivision email. It takes just 5 or 10 minutes each week for a person to read and communicates information and motivation to a greater extent than most other companies. Even if an employee misses one, there is always a visible link to all the previous emails.
Engagement is not only an individual thing; it also refers to standing up for the team as a whole, especially when someone says something negative about the company or its people.
I freely admit that at Qualifirst, we have not always been clear with regards to what we expect of our team members. If clear rules are not established, and if errant behavior, whether conscious or unconscious happens, then it is management that needs to do a much better job. This is my failure as a leader.
Crossing the Line:
So when a team member crosses the line, expecting us to start counting to three as a warning, that person may be surprised to find out we don’t do that. We simply let the person go. Again, I admit this is my failure as a leader. Perhaps my definitions of engagement and behavior were not in sync with the team.
We would never let someone go from Qualifirst for a frivolous reason.
We stand behind our employees and have gone out of our way to help many of them, especially when they have been facing personal struggle or challenging times. We have always made it our mission to hire people who fit our culture and vision, and to assist them with their careers inside the Qualifirst family.
As leader I have chosen to redouble my commitment to my team, by more clearly defining successful performance. The best way to avoid people crossing the line is to ensure they know where the line is.
So, the leadership team has committed to helping. If we see an employee who is not engaged we will deliver direct feedback right away. No room for assumption or misunderstanding. We will tell the employee in a very clear – but supportive – way.
If we see that an employee is not meeting our expectations we will communicate directly and we will make sure we are understood. That is our new commitment, and it is intended not as a draconian measure, but as an attempt at clear mutual understanding.
We do not dismiss people randomly or mysteriously:
There has to be a valid reason. Some of the repeated behavior that will hold someone back or get them dismissed:
- Refusing to do a task, or complaining about it because “it’s not my job.”
- Not cleaning up a workstation after use, thus creating an additional burden for others.
- Doing a job in such a way that someone else has to finish it off or correct it.
- Demonstrating poor attendance.
- Feeling that a manager can be ignored.
- Not meeting the expectations as outlined in the job description.
As leaders we are now committed to doing a better job at giving feedback and clear expectations.
But we will still hold our team members to a higher standard of behavior and performance than they might see at other companies. We do expect our team members to be engaged, and we do intend to treat our team members as adults.
We won’t count to three with written warnings or a three-strikes rule.
We don’t think it is fair for anyone – employees, managers or customers – for us to treat our team members as children. We are all hard-working, intelligent adults, who have been brought together because we each possess the skills and drive that make our company special. We think it is only fair to work at this adult level.
That’s where engagement comes from, and that’s where success can be found.