Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan’s new distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains more than 200 hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Learn more about this session here.
It’s what your bigwigs want, isn’t it? A workplace full of people committed to your organizational objectives.
“A great place, to a leader, is one that has people who want to give their best to the company every day,” says Greg Moyer, who helped build such a culture at Snagajob. “And ‘want’ is a key word there.”
The question is how to do that. In the Ragan Training video “Do you have a people strategy? Can you articulate it in less than 2 minutes?” Moyer and Snagajob Board Chairman Shawn Boyer tell how to achieve business results by creating an environment of what sounds suspiciously like decency and mutual respect.
The two lay out guidelines for organizations that want to turn employees who resemble Dilbert’s Wally into an excited, engaged team of colleagues.
Turns out cracking the whip isn’t the best way to communicate with and motivate your staff. There is a bottom-line value to working among people who like your organization and who embrace its strategic vision.
Here are some pointers:
Use meetings to inspire
Do your staffers nod off in meetings? What if they came away inspired by great stories that they’d eagerly share at dinner parties or around the Thanksgiving table? That’s what Snagajob’s 250 staffers (or “snaggers”) get at their weekly gathering.
Someone always recites the mission statement. Then the bosses make that real by reading a customer testimonial. One single mom wrote to say that the site helped her land the job of her dreams—in the home decorating department at JCPenney, says Moyer. (He recently left Snagajob and is now principal of The Culture Advantage, a strategy and human capital consulting firm.)
Thanks to her new job, she could afford Christmas presents for her kids. Touched by the story, Snagajob sent her some additional help: a check for $300 to buy gifts.
Another client wrote that she had been unemployed and (remarkably) was caring for her ex-husband, who had cancer, when she landed work through Snagajob. “Thank you so much for helping a low-income family fighting with cancer for the third time,” she wrote. “You kept my hopes up while supporting a sick man.”
Such stories focus staffers on the real people they serve.
“It’s not a matter of whether they’re going to go on vacation to Cancun or whether they’re going to go to the Bahamas, or a Lexus versus a Camry that they’re going to drive,” Boyer says. “It is whether or not they’re going to be able to pay rent.”
This is excerpted from a Ragan Training video titled “Do you have a people strategy? Can you articulate it in less than 2 minutes? from Snagajob“
Trust your employees
Snagajob has a workplace bar with beer on tap where staffers can quaff a brew at the end of the day. Sometimes people ask, “Aren’t you worried about the liability?”
But Moyer says Snagajob has never had a problem with any lampshade-on-the-head antics. The lesson: Trust your employees.
“You get what you expect,” he says.
You gotta serve somebody
Snagajob’s bigwigs don’t toss thunderbolts from their corner offices. The company’s model is “servant leadership,” right down to flipping burgers at a company picnic, says Moyer.
“People are not there in the organization to serve their leaders,” Moyer says. “Leaders are there to serve everybody else in the organization. That’s their only reason for existence.”
Involve your staff in interviews
Forty percent of hires come through referrals, and Snagajob seeks to land people who “can do, will do, and will fit” the job.
Staffers participate in the interviews, and a high priority is given to characteristics such as compassion, humility, and competitiveness. Do candidates volunteer in a community soup kitchen? Were they involved in competitive sports? Or how else have they shown that they will get along well but also be fighters for the company?
“That is a common theme that runs through the organization,” Moyer says. “They all want to win.”
Go all out to welcome new hires
Boyer sends everyone he hires a personal note with a $100 gift certificate. He tells them take their significant other out to dinner. As a result, the spouse or partner ends up enthusiastic about the company.
Once newcomers arrive, everyone is assigned a “sidekick” who helps with introductions. If you’re new at Snagajob, be prepared to meet with everyone working at your site the first day. There’s also an orientation with a strong emphasis on fun.
Newcomers fill out form questions for a standard new-hire email that will be sent out: “Confessions of a new Snagger.” Newcomers are set up in front at their first meeting, and the old hands are asked questions about them. A boss tosses a candy bar to everyone who gets a right answer.
“It’s all about helping people be welcomed and helping them feel like, ‘Hey, this is a place that I want to be,'” Moyer says.