Attributes of the Best Companies
In the hiring process, a major consideration for both the company and the potential employee is the “fit” or chemistry between the two parties. From a candidate’s viewpoint, not all companies are created equal and there are some companies that you really don’t want to work for. From the company’s perspective, if you want to attract the best talent, you have to build your brand and reputation as a great place to work. What makes some companies inherently better than others?
Invest in your employees and their development.
Companies that allot time for on the job training, provide continued education reimbursement, encourage participation in trade shows and trade organizations, and support pursuit of certification opportunities, empower and motivate their employees. They provide cross training and promotional opportunities to include cross functional moves. They pay attention to onboarding new employees. Companies that genuinely care about their employees usually have high ethics, embrace diversity and equality and display integrity in all their actions. They walk the talk.
Be transparent with strategy, plans and financials.
Employees are also empowered with knowledge and understanding of how their efforts fit into the larger scope of the company and its performance. Employees want to perform well and are motivated by knowledge. Regular communications meetings are common in the best companies. Employee involvement is a cornerstone for success.
Invest in product and process improvement.
Companies that constantly challenge themselves and their employees to improve, or change, tend to outperform their competitors and retain key people. Capital spending, R&D spending and lean manufacturing initiatives create a positive and upbeat work environment where all can thrive. Resources are available for projects regardless of cash flow implications.
Take the long view.
Companies that chase quarterly results tend to constantly be cutting costs, restructuring, right sizing and implementing contingency plans. While no one would argue that it is appropriate periodically, it is very stressful when that becomes the norm and a significant demotivation. A focus on customers, quality, safety, delivery reliability and productivity require daily effort and should not play second fiddle to financial performance. The right focus will deliver the financial performance in the long run.
Treat everyone fairly and equitably.
Nepotism and favoritism are detrimental to company performance. Companies that do not manage employees and apply policies in a consistent and transparent way will have higher turnover and lower productivity. The best companies have formal policies available to all employees. Rules need to be applied fairly. Employees need to feel valued and treated with courtesy and respect.
Listen to your employees.
Companies that truly listen to their workers and create an environment where every good idea gets consideration, tend to outperform their competitors and have higher productivity. Employees perform tasks every day and have excellent insight how to simplify their jobs which translates to reduced cost. Just as customers need to feel being heard by their suppliers, so do employees need to feel heard by their employers.
Stick to the knitting.
Companies that focus their efforts on their competitive advantage, study their competitors and create a customer centric business model tend to have the most focus and understanding of how to serve their market. Trying to be all things to all people is a challenging approach to business which tends to drain resources, limit progress and create confusion and uncertainty regarding priorities. Great companies know what they are good at and do it better than their competitors. At the same time, they are unafraid of reinventing themselves when conditions change.
Create a positive work environment.
Companies that challenge employees to excel, delegate responsibilities to them and allow them to learn from their mistakes drive innovation and creativity. Avoid creating a fear of failure in the workplace and build on a sense of belonging and teamwork. The opportunity to try new things and gain experience will not always be without mistakes, but without the effort, a risk adverse environment will lag all others in performance.
All employees need to be aware of how they will be evaluated and how their performance will be measured. Feedback is essential to that effort. Providing mentoring, coaching and training to address deficiencies is essential to the overall success of the organization. Everyone benefits from having a scorecard with their name on it.
Create a shared sense of purpose and comradery.
Driving professionalism in the workplace creates pride in the company and its performance. This shared sense of purpose encourages all manner of positive behavior where employees go the extra mile to get things done right the first time. The need to belong and feel appreciated is important to all employees. Anything that promotes a feeling of job insecurity will destroy goodwill and performance.
Hire the best people.
The best companies have well thought out hiring practices to target the best available candidates. They tend to pay slightly better than the market average or mid-point for every position to attract and retain the high end performers.
It is easy to say financial performance overrides these attributes but that is an excuse for a struggling enterprise. The best companies tend to have the best performance over the long run with lower turnover and greater productivity. They value their employees and rely on them to make the company better every day. Providing resources for employee involvement, communications and investing in capital and R&D requires planning and excellent execution, which frees up the cash to allow for these investments. The best companies don’t expect their people to do more with less. The best companies always figure out a way to grow and fund the ongoing enterprise.
Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for over 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.
Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates