I held a roundtable recently with 10 employees from what appeared to be a dynamic, growing, financially stable company. What I found was that employees were scared. They felt their direct managers favored only those who agreed with them, supported their ideas and didn’t rock the boat. Others felt that if they didn’t go to lunch or join after work events they were held to a different standard than those who did.
In looking further I found that the CEO had started a company that focused on people and service. He was a good leader and grew the company through his people. So what happened?
As the company grew the CEO had to hire senior staff so he could continue to concentrate on the growth. The CEO expected a lot from his people. He was very heavily involved in moving the company forward, so he left the management to his VP’s. The VP’s wanting to build a strong organization promoted those individuals who were great at their jobs. However, they didn’t really take the time to determine how well the employees they were promoting would do in a leadership position, especially with very little guidance and no management training. The company morphed into production mode and forgot who made the company successful.
The CEO was so busy he missed all the signs. Attrition, bad attitudes, everyone left early and didn’t come in a minute before they were required. You see inexperienced managers were told to produce and improve profits and they did, the only way they knew how. They did so however at the expense of the original culture and consequently the employees. Management through intimidation and fear. It works! For a while, but eventually it does come crumbling down. And when it does, you may not have the skill set and strength in the remaining team to recover.
If growing your company is key, then employee satisfaction must be your goal. CEO’s need to keep a pulse on employee morale and what’s really happening in the trenches to be able to take action.
Implementing some strategies can rock the boat for middle managers, and they most certainly require deep collaboration with HR. But since job satisfaction rates are so low these days, CEO’s and senior leaders must explore new ways to improve morale and keep good employees.