The internal structure of a successful business is built off of a strong foundation. Consider a building, without a strong foundation, over time it may crumble; this also holds true for the structure of a business. While managers and VP’s are often viewed as the most important components within an organization, recent studies are shedding light on the importance of the employees, and the direct effect they have on the success of a business. How can you ensure the foundation of your business is strong and successful? Simply, take the opportunity to invest in your employees.
Improve Employee & Workplace Morale
Investing in employees provides them with the secure feeling that the organization they work for views them as more than just a “worker”, but a valued asset to the company and its path to success. When your employees feel as if they have a purpose within their position, morale and motivation can improve drastically. The workplace is where employees of different levels are spending a majority of their time throughout the day; it is important that the morale within this environment is high, and providing employees with a positive workspace.
Boost Company Reputation
Similar to the detriment that can result from an angry customer, an angry employee with low morale and negative feelings towards the company can also come with an unfavorable impact. Investing in employees and their happiness within the organization improves the way employees feel about their workplace, and warrants positive reviews, feedback, and employee referrals.
Decrease Turnover Rate
One of the greatest fears that C-Level executives often experience, is a high turnover rate. The turnover rate within an organization is one of the first factors potential candidates look for when they are seeking employment. A company with a high turnover rate can be interpreted as an organization that does not take care of their employees or has a failing internal structure. Investing in your employees and creating a job that they want to be, improves the chances of retaining valued employees that a business is built off of.
Train Employees Properly
Proper training for employees should not only be provided upon the completion of the hiring process but also throughout the course of employment. New hire training programs should always be implemented for all candidates to participate in. Engage new employees throughout training to keep the interaction moving and avoid redundancy. Invest the necessary resources into developing a strong training program that will successfully prepare new candidates for their appointed positions. Furthermore, there is always something new to learn. Offering continuing training sessions or seminars for employees can assist in keeping skills sharp.
Adopt Employee Development Programs
Employees in a successful business are on a continuous development process. Invest in employee development programs that are proven to not only benefit the organization itself, but the employee as well. This can be done in a number of ways. Work on an employees development individually by tracking progress, current and future goals, and providing strong and accurate performance feedback. This will assist employees in their personal development within their position.
Invest Personal Time
Within leadership best practices, it is important to understand the job may not end exactly when the day is over. Successful leaders often invest a significant portion of their personal time into their employees. Forbes contributor, John Hall, states, “When my co-founder and I started Influence and Co., we invested a lot of time in each employee. We made it a point to take employees out to lunch, include them in business trips related to their areas, and spend time with them outside of work.” Take the time out to get to know employees and create a trustworthy relationship.
When companies merge, the acquiring company gains an enormous edge in talent. Though any merger causes anxiety around the issue of redundancy, employees actually benefit from the process: Employees of the acquired company are offered new opportunities that could never be possible at their former company. Those of the acquiring company, meanwhile, have the chance to benefit from new products, processes, talents, accounts, and a plethora of other benefits that are part of the reason the target company was acquired.
Convincing employees at both organizations that the merger helps everyone is key. When the newly-acquired employees come on board, it’s important to make them feel at home. They should never feel like strangers in a strange land, but accomplishing this requires setting the expectations of both sets of employees before the new employees start.
Clarify and communicate the Important Changes
Change is part of any merger process. The purpose is to build a stronger organization by merging two companies that complement each other. For the employees gained from the merger to thrive in their new environment, they must understand the important changes they need to make in order for the merger to succeed.
Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the MIT School of Business, explains, in a Harvard Business Review article, that before a merger is even completed, both sides need to ask themselves, how will each side need to adjust to the other?
For example, will the acquired team need to collaborate across the enterprise? Employees from smaller firms may be unaccustomed to the chain of command and bureaucratic structures of larger organizations. Must the new employees embrace certain corporate practices and protocols? Are these drastically different? If new employees must adapt to substantial changes in workflow, expectations, and management style, before merging, management should ask itself if that much change is realistic. Is the merger a good fit?
If it is, new employees need to adapt. Helping them thrive involves first making them understand the operational, organizational, and cultural values they must embrace. Convincing them to accept these changes is a matter of showing how these changes are opportunities, rather than compromises.
When the new employees feel they have been handed a golden opportunity, they tend to have a positive attitude toward the merger. Though they must adapt to the new company’s environment, it’s also important for the new company to adapt to them in return. After all, the purpose of the merger was to benefit from the acquired company’s abilities, and the acquiring company can learn valuable things from its newly acquired pool of talent.
Workplaces need to be a nucleus of productivity, cooperation, and inclusiveness. When a workplace culture has become toxic from the unpleasant behaviors of its employees, these three workplace aspects will decline dramatically. If you’ve noticed that your workplace culture is becoming toxic, here is an effective guide on how to replace that culture with a healthier one.
- Identify Problem Behaviors
The first step to changing the toxic culture in a workplace is figuring out which behaviors are contributing to the toxic atmosphere. As a member of upper management, you may not spend a lot of time in the same work areas as your employees; this causes you to miss out on spotting potentially toxic behaviors that could be poisoning the working environment on a daily basis.
The best way to identify these behaviors is to consult with your employees. This can occur as either an employee meeting where you invite your employees to voice their issues using anonymous information or it can be done privately with one-on-one talks.
- Clearly Define The Changes
Once toxic behaviors have been identified, it’s time to begin implementing sweeping changes to the culture in the workplace. It’s not going to be enough to say “stop doing this” or “start doing this.” The changes you need to make should be detailed in their description so that people will understand what exactly they need to stop doing and how to successfully begin the positive changes.
- Be Swift In Action
The longer that toxic behaviors are left to disintegrate a workplace culture, the more difficult it will be to change them. When new employees are hired and enter the workplace, the current employees will immediately begin to teach the new employees these toxic habits to continue the cycle. It is best to nip toxic workplace behaviors in the bud immediately before the ideas and habits can saturate the workplace entirely.
- Demonstrate A “No Tolerance” Policy
Some employees may be hesitant about embracing the new changes. Regardless of how valuable they are to the company, you must not be afraid to make an example out of them. If there are employees openly defying the changes, terminate their employment immediately. This will show the other employees that the company is serious about improving workplace culture and that the toxic behavior will no longer be tolerated.
About Scott Avila
When Scott Avila began his career, the restructuring industry didn’t exist. Today, however, Scott has more than 25 years of experience helping to set struggling companies on a path to success. He’s worked in a wide range of roles at distressed companies across a variety of industries. He believes true change doesn’t always start with an answer, but instead, with a question: Investors, leaders, and companies need to ask themselves what issues they face as well as what they’re doing–or not doing–in order to turn their goals into realities.
Scott Avila is the Co-Founder of Paladin Management Services, where he specializes in restructuring companies in the middle market and helping them to increase profits, grow, and build cohesive team cultures. Prior to co-founding Paladin, Scott was Chief Executive Officer of Armory Strategic Partners, the consulting division of Armory Group. Before that, he was Principal in Deloitte’s Corporate Restructuring Group and Managing Partner at CRG Partners Group prior to the sale of CRG to Deloitte in 2012.
These roles often required Scott Avila to step in and assume leadership of companies, and in fact, he has served as chief restructuring officer (CRO) at a $250 million international motorcycle products manufacturer and distributor, a $250 million branded apparel manufacturer and distributor, CRO and chief operating officer (COO) of a $900 million international leasing and computer reseller, an advisor to a $12 billion farm cooperative, and many other companies. He has also worked across a broad spectrum of industries such as media, publishing, telecommunications, energy, healthcare, finance, and many others.
After working at different firms across various industries, Scott Avila is a firm believer that a business’ culture helps to shape its success. Some of the strongest companies are those with mission-based cultures where achieving the company’s mission is the highest priority for all employees. In fact, one of the first things Scott likes to do when stepping into a new company is make sure that everyone understands the mission and is ready to make it a reality.
Scott Avila earned his B.B.A. from California State University and his M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. He currently lives with his family in California, where he frequently writes and lectures on a number of topics related to restructuring.
More About Scott
Scott Avila has held membership in numerous professional organizations. He has assumed interim executive or advisory roles in various restructuring projects for companies including but not limited to:
-A $250 million branded apparel manufacturer and distributor
-A $900 million international leasing and computer reseller
-An independent TV and movie production facility
Scott earned his B.B.A. at California State University, Hayward and his M.B.A. at the University of Southern California.