Most companies are extremely aware of their external markets such as clients, customers, distributor networks and even vendors. But many fail to realize that employees make up an internal market. There are plenty of organizations that bend over backwards to get feedback and input from customers and clients. Far fewer work as hard to get feedback and input from employees. I sincerely believe that any organization that doesn’t view its employees as an internal market is short-sighted. And if you think the majority of your employees are happy campers – I’ve got news for you.
In a report released January 5, 2010 by The Conference Board based on a survey of 5000 U.S. households, only 45 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with their jobs. 55 percent are not satisfied with their jobs! According to Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Centre of The Conference Board, “The downward trend in job satisfaction could spell trouble for the overall engagement of U.S. employees and ultimately employee productivity.”
What the report doesn’t tell us is WHY 55 percent of employees are dissatisfied. And while specific reasons for dissatisfaction vary by company, job and employee, I believe it can pretty much be summed up as a disconnect between those in the ivory tower and those in the trenches.
One of the best books I ever read on management and problem-solving is an 80 page book called, “I Know It When I See It” by John Guaspari. In the book, the Boss demoralized his employees by telling them that the key to increasing the quality of their product is to, “Try Harder! Do Better!” It had the same effect as unfunded government mandates – no one was given the information, tools or ability to accomplish the edict. What followed was employee frustration, job dissatisfaction and further loss of market share.
If your company is large enough, consider an undercover operation to include the top echelon. In disguise either shop your company or get a job with your company. See first-hand what affect your policies and directives are having on those who must deliver your product or service. In smaller companies, I encourage bosses and managers to get out of the back room. Run the cash register. Load some trucks. Ride and work the route. Stock some shelves.
The easiest dollar made is from a happy, repeat customer. But that’s a lot harder to achieve when employees’ are hampered by decisions based solely on numbers made by people sitting behind desks who are out of touch with reality.