RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE CORNERSTONE OF MY COMPANY'S CULTURE - HERE'S HOW TO MAKE THEM YOURS, TOO

RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE CORNERSTONE OF MY COMPANY'S CULTURE - HERE'S HOW TO MAKE THEM YOURS, TOO

Strong companies depend on strong relationships, and fostering those relationships among employees keeps people satisfied, engaged and productive at work. Research shows that having a friend at work does more for employee satisfaction than perks like free lunches or cool office spaces. More than one-third of employees don’t think they interact with their co-workers enough, and 60 percent report that they eat lunch alone at their desks.

Managers need to encourage their employees to step away from their desks, decompress and make friends. These bonds build trust, which is essential for high quality teams. When co-workers trust each other, they are more willing to open up, take risks and be more creative and innovative.

Many organizations, however, seem to neglect the trust factor. In one survey, 45 percent of workers said the problem that most affected their performance was a lack of trust in their leadership. But that doesn’t have to be the norm: Business leaders can take steps to create company cultures that value relationship-building, thus increasing trust and loyalty throughout the organization.

The Importance of Work Friendships

In all aspects of life, we depend on others. That’s especially true when it comes to success -- we often must rely on others to help us do our best work. Organizations with high levels of trust see their colleagues as credible and feel confident in one another’s actions. They support employee growth and encourage idea-sharing. Employees, in return, feel valued.

Trust and relationship-building is especially important to Millennial employees: A study by LinkedIn revealed that 67 percent are likely to share personal information with co-workers, while only one-third of Baby Boomers do the same. And 46 percent of workers worldwide say their work friends are important to their overall happiness.

Employees with work friends are often more engaged with their work and more likely to stick around. In a worldwide survey of employees by the O.C. Tanner Institute, 72 percent who said they have a best friend at work reported higher satisfaction than the 54 percent who don’t have a work bestie.

Not only are employees more satisfied when they have friends at work, but they also perform better. One likely reason is that when you have friends at work, it’s easier to get help and seek advice. Plus, seeing friends is a sure way to put you in a good mood, which can help you be more productive.

How to Foster Supportive Relationships

One of an employer’s most important jobs is to create a company culture that values relationships and to implement a strategy that encourages relationship building. Consider these strategies as you build that culture:

1. Take a genuine interest in those around you.

Truly being interested in your colleagues’ lives goes beyond simply getting to know them. Ensure that you and your employees have built-in time to talk and find out what’s important to one another. Everyone is busy, sure, but neglecting co-worker relationships can only hurt your business. Take time to build the trust that makes the foundation of a solid relationship.

When hiring a new direct report, I always set up a one-on-one coffee or lunch to talk about their career dreams, what motivates them and what they are passionate about outside of work. I keep notes on birthdays, children and family, and other things that are important to each employee so I can remember what is significant and meaningful to him or her. I believe one's personal life will affect one's professional life, so this information is valuable. Consider keeping these notes in a journal you keep or in a protected folder on your computer or phone.

2. Recognize and nurture differences.

Differences make life interesting. Nurturing and leveraging those differences among your employees produces happier, more successful teams. Every person brings individual strengths, talents, knowledge and experience to the table. Discover each of your employees’ strengths, then foster them. The more you understand your team, the more effective and productive your team will become.

I always look to find teams to complement my strengths. I created my success test to help me understand which trait someone leads with so I can find someone who complements them. It’s important to recognize that good professional traits are interdependent -- you need all of them to successfully execute your company’s vision. So instead of seeing my employees as individual players, I view them as a team that works together.

3. Look for mutually beneficial opportunities.

Business leaders should always look to improve their companies long-term -- not just for themselves, but for the greater good.

This attitude might not always be reciprocated, but you shouldn’t ever do something just because you want something else in return, as you’ll likely be disappointed. If you’re always working to help others, though, you’ll likely find ways to connect employees -- or yourself -- to other people for support or advice.

Social media game developer Zynga knows its young employees are crucial to its future, so it has created a mentorship program for its employees who are recent college graduates. Young Zynga employees spend one week training to become successful employees. Then, for the next six months, each employee gets to experience working with different teams in the company before he decides which area to join, ensuring that new employees are excited and ready to begin their careers with Zynga.

As an employer, it’s critical to understand that your most valuable assets are your employees. And good relationships among your team members are not a luxury — they’re a necessity. The best company culture is one built on nurturing those connections that make employees feel more satisfied at work, thus increasing productivity,  decreasing turnover, and driving your business toward success.

 


3 PROVEN STRATEGIES FOR MOTIVATING YOUR MILLENNIAL WORKFORCE

3 PROVEN STRATEGIES FOR MOTIVATING YOUR MILLENIAL WORKFORCE

And create an environment which allows them to thrive.

As the CEO of a global digital business, a large majority of my employees are millennials. And I love it – and them. Yes, love. They are the future of business. In 2015, they passed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. They will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. That’s just seven years away.

So why is there so much negativity towards them? Why do so many non-millennials – and even some traditionally minded millennials I know – complain about this generation instead of seeing them in a positive light? We want them to be motivated and set up for success. We would like them to be committed and not just leave the second the next opportunity presents itself. So how do we create a self-regulating and self-encouraging environments that allow millennials to thrive? How do we use positive reinforcement and provide the opportunities millennials need and expect without compromising the need to deliver results? Here are 3 strategies I have used to help motivate millennials that work!

1. Give them a growth plan for today

According to recent research, millennials want to be promoted fast, demand development opportunities, and leave jobs quickly when they don’t find those things. All true. But why are those things negatives in so many people’s minds? Business today demands speed, seizing opportunities, and the ability to adapt when something isn’t working. I think it’s great millennials expect the same things for themselves. I love that millennials want to take on new responsibilities, take on new roles, even move to new locations. I don’t see that their acting entitled but a chance to push them to do all they can – to find a growth plan that gets them inspired and motivated.

Simply put, millennials want the opportunities to do something great. Don’t we all want to do something great? In fact, when millennials do that the U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that they are just as loyal as the previous generation: they stay in their jobs as long as Generation Xers. Forget about the idea that if you want to move up you have to serve time. Show them where they can be in months. Give them constant feedback. Stop holding them accountable to inflexible job descriptions that read like a criminal sentence. Work isn’t a punishment. I love what I do, and I want my people to love it too! Instead of a list of general responsibilities and complaining when they fall short, understand their strengths and leverage them, empowering them to be better at what they do well and own it. Treat them like valued individuals who can be themselves and achieve the goals of the organization.

2. Create “intrapreneurial” work environments

Today I work for one of the largest telecommunications company’s in Asia but I still call myself an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is someone who identifies new business opportunity, pushes boundaries and is willing to take risks. I expect this same entrepreneurial spirit from the people who work for me. Bottom to top, I don’t want my people confined to a box – they can’t just do what they’re told. So I’m naturally more hands off and expect my leaders to be the same way. There are opportunities to create opportunities 24/7.

By creating autonomous work environments that allow millennials to be what I call “intrapreneurs.” Intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs within the walls of the company they work for. They get job security but the opportunity to work as individuals to create, innovate, and start new opportunities in addition to maintaining and growing the ones already identified. Millennials see things non-millennials don’t, why confine them? We’ve done the same thing when it comes to diversity in the workplace: try and make people conform to one way of doing things. What does that get you? One way of doing things. Allow them to teach you and create, innovate and imagine of any idea possible and be open to it.

When I started my first company, there weren’t social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter yet today we have partnerships with all of them. Today our social success is a direct a result of my talented team identifying new marketing opportunities in social media and being given the autonomy to create new business lines for advertisers to work with them.

3. Demand and reward for performance

There’s a myth out there that millennials are not as competitive as previous generations – that they would rather collaborate than compete. From my experience at a company driven by millennials I know that is false. In fact, research shows millennials are more likely than any previous generation to measure their success by comparing their performance to their peers. So expect results and reward them regularly when they perform.

Millennials grew up in a world with trophies for participation and helicopter parents who solved everything for them. Let them break free from all that and thrive. Recognize them for results, not just showing up – and celebrate performance wins small and big regularly! Balance their entrepreneurial drives with real expectations for measurable results. Be clear what they are and demand it! They will respond, because they want to deliver for you – to show their value.

But when you do, please don't judge how millennials deliver those results. If they are delivering results, why does how they work make us uncomfortable? We want them to love what they do authentically and genuinely! Yet too often we judge them without any attempt to understand or accommodate their differences.

The fact is millennials didn’t grow up like non-millennials did and we shouldn’t expect them to change. We want them to use their strengths to build us a bigger, brighter future! Millennials understand that work-life separation is often impossible these days. It’s about work-life integration. If you truly love what you do, it’s not a chore to take a 7 a.m. call on the weekend or devote some of your vacation time to business. If your business allows a millennial who wants to kick ass on the weekend so he or she can surf on a Monday? Go for it! Just make sure they prioritize correctly so that their energy and quality time always goes in the right direction in work and life. They must always know you expect accountability to those results – but that if they deliver you will give them that space.

In the end, motivating millennials is letting go of how things should be and opening up to how they could be. Keep them engaged, provide the value they need, and make sure they are recognized and rewarded when they deliver. Bridge your old school mindset with the demands of millennials today. Understanding how to motivate them is about letting go of the past and evolving together for mutual success in the future.