So what are some things that can be done to remedy these situations? The June 2010 issue of Inc. magazine has an interview with noted Stanford University organizational guru Jeffrey Pfeffer on how to turn around these types of workplaces.
Let me outline some of his main points:
- What are clues that your organization has a problem?
Are people happy? Do they laugh? Or, do they scowl and avoid each other? Pfeffer uses the examples of Southwest vs. United airlines. He asks: Which airline would you rather fly?
- What do leaders need to do to start change?
The most important issue here is that leaders must believe that organizations that value their employees and treat them well do better than others by developing a competitive advantage. Loyal customers come from loyal employees who provide them with high levels of service versus the opposite (See my last blog post “Who comes First: Your Customers Or Your Employees?”).
- How do leaders demonstrate that they’re serious?
Tell people how things will change and have them hold you accountable. Pfeffer tells a story about a general manager (GM) who was doing a plant turnaround. He was asked by the employees to pave the parking lot that would become a mess when it rained. When the GM did the paving, it was the first step in establishing credibility.Pfeffer’s conclusion: “Most organizations have some version of an unpaved parking lot. Fix it and prove that you care about your workforce.”
- What are other things that can be done to move things along?
- Let people make decisions
- Share the economic gains through some type of gain sharing
- Share information
- Invest in people through education and training
- Start with small steps and build on them