Tag Archives: Leadership

Being Flexible To Employee Needs Takes Great Management

17 Mar


I just returned from working with my co-author Leigh Branham at an event where we judged employers on how “family friendly” they were. The event allowed us to review employee survey data on the topic and interview leaders and employees of participating companies.

One employer particularly impressed me with their willingness to be flexible when it came to allowing employees to attend to family needs. There was little resistence to reasonable requests to time off, even at the last moment. I was told a story of how a valued employee was given a day off before a big customer event the next day when the business would likely be quite busy– the manager didn’t seem to even break a sweat about the matter. As you might expect, employees were genuinely appreciative of the committment of the management, and little was reported in terms of employees taking advantage or “gaming”– most employees were grateful for the kindness and returned the consideration with increased productivity and retention.

That’s all fine and well, but what really struck me was how much effort had gone into the results I was observing. The ability to be flexible was the outcome of years of great management. A few observations:

  • The ability of management to be flexible to employee requests required that many employees had been cross-trained for different roles in the business.
  • Employee turnover was very low. You can cross-train employees more effectively in a stable workforce.
  • The philosophy of the leadership in this business was to trust employees. If there were performance problems those would certainly be addressed, but giving trust to employees brought trust back many-fold.

Some managers may like the idea of being more family-friendly and have a desire in accommodating the personal needs of those whom they manage. To effectively implement a concept may require years of carefully designed management– time to get to work.

Enlightened Supervision???

21 Feb

“Using Integrity to Repair Trust”

8 Feb


That was the headline of an excellent article in my hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald. The article reported on a conference called “Aiming Higher”, sponsored by the Greater Omaha (Nebraska, USA) Business Ethics Alliance. The conference brought community leaders and students together to discuss this topic. The article quotes Creighton University professor Beverly Kracher as to why a conference like this is important:

“Everybody seems to lack trust in business as a whole,” Kracher said. “One of the ways to repair that trust is for the public to have good examples. These examples are so powerful they help us all learn.”

This topic of business ethics is particularly important to me this weekend, and I just learned that someone I care about deeply has been affected by the Bernard Madoff scandal. My heart just sank at this news. That sad story has now become quite personal. I am even more upset that his actions have affected how all of us view business and leadership.

Trust in our leaders in many quarters, sadly, has eroded. The hope, from my point of view, is that not all is lost. Our studies of highly engaged workplaces shows that employers with outstanding engagement survey results still present high “Trust In Senior Leaders” ratings. Truth- telling, employee engagement and success in business go hand-in-hand. I think it incumbent on those of who are passionate about great workplaces to continue open dialogue about this topic. The scars of Madoff will not easily be healed– it’s up to us to make that happen.

For excerpts from the Omaha World-Herald of interviews from leaders who participated in this event, Click Here. The full interviews, along with additional information on this topic, can be found at the Business Ethics Alliance web site.