Its cliche for a business owner to say that his employees are the company’s greatest asset. But it’s extremely rare for an owner to actually act that way.
In fact, many leaders don’t have a clue when it comes to building a culture and a company that fosters loyalty among their best employees.
One CEO, Aaron Steed of Meathead Movers, who hired us a few years ago lamented the fact that his long-time employees, those who had the most knowledge and should be adding the most value to his company, seemed to be infected with a case of the “Screwits”.
The Screwits is how he describes it when long-time employees just seem to stop trying.
Employees with the Screwits stop doing their best work. They become complacent, or worse yet, disgruntled.
Where their job performance used to scream “HELL YEAH!”, now it mumbles “screw it”.
Once infected, they stop trying their hardest and begin the long slow decline towards termination or quitting.
When we dug into the circumstances that contributed to the Screwits outbreak, we found three key causes.
1.) His employees didn’t set goals
Sure, the employees HAD goals, but they were set by the company, not the employees themselves.
This is a problem because if your employees don’t have written goals (not just career goals but also life goals), then how are you ever going to show them that their job is helping them accomplish the things that are most important to them?
If your employees have written goals, and their managers know those goals and check in on them from time to time, your employees will be much more motivated to do a good job at work. They will see how their job contributes to the life they want.
The company rolled out Personal Goal Statements for every employee. This is a goal setting exercise that ends with every employee having written goals for their career and their personal life.
Then, on a quarterly basis, managers review these goals with each employee to see how they are doing and what the manager and company can do to support the employee.
2.) The employees didn’t see growth opportunities
Meathead Movers is a relatively flat organization without many layers of management. So, many long-time employees hit their heads on the job ceiling years ago.
This is a problem because if there is no opportunity for growth at work, employees often stop giving their best effort. In some cases, there were growth opportunities but the employees just weren’t aware of them.
The first thing we did was create posters and other collateral showing each employee exactly what their career track was within the company.
The second (and more revolutionary) thing we did was to change corporate policy around how we transitioned employees out.
See, what used to happen was the Screwits would set in, then disciplinary action would take place, then eventually, the employee would quit or would get terminated for poor performance.
But now, the company has a process in place to help employees transition out of the company in a positive way. From the hiring process onward, the company makes it clear that the employees are welcome to be a part of the team for as long as they are happy and productive.
The company also makes it clear that for many employees this job is just a stepping stone to something else, and that’s totally cool.
In fact, the company helps their employees gain the skills that will help them in their future job and even trains them on how to put a great resume together.
The company also proactively calls the companies that their employees are interested in going to work for and offer positive work reviews. WOW!
3.) The employees didn’t see their work as important
The moving industry isn’t that sexy; and Meathead Movers’ core business doesn’t save the world (although the movement they created IS). Meathead provides an important service but nothing that makes their employee’s hearts swell with inspiration.
The problem is that if your employees don’t see how their job matters, or ties into the overall company vision, they will quickly just do enough to get by.
After all, if their work doesn’t really matter, why would they pour their heart into it?
First we rewrote the company vision in a way that was true to the work they did and also connected that work to making big personal differences in people’s lives.
Second, we trained the managers to show each employee how their work is not only helping the company to accomplish it’s vision, but also how their work is making their own life better.
Third, Meathead Movers does change the world for the better by offering free moving services to victims of domestic violence.
So, what happened at the company as a result of these changes?
- Meathead Movers saw an annual revenue growth of over 40%
- Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high.
- And employee satisfactions has increased at all levels.
In addition to these measurable results, the owners and executives have had more time to focus on business development and implementing their strategic plan since they spend so much less time dealing with employee problems.
The small investment Aaron has made in his leadership team and his company has resulted in huge growth.
Face it, you probably have a few cases of the Screwits in your company, maybe you’ve even contracted a case yourself.
After all, executives are just as vulnerable to this disease as other employees.
Don’t let the Screwits cost you your best employees and $100,000’s or Millions of dollars. The cure is affordable and relatively painless (hell, you might even have fun).
You don’t just have to live with the problems and frustrations you’re experiencing in your business. You can cure them as long as you are willing to implement a few of these countermeasures.