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Getting In-Sync


10/25/2006
By Gary Garberg

Open communication between employee and employer is the best way to ensure a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. Not having it is a sure way to destroy a business.
 

Just the other day, I had a very interesting conversation with our operations manager. Jeff has done every job in our company and is now responsible for every individual who does any job in the company. He is terrific at what he does, but he has an on-going concern that keeps tugging at his shirt sleeve too frequently.

His concern revolves around the constant disconnect between the expectations employees have of the company, and the expectations the company has of employees. Why does it seem so often that the these expectations are so out-of-sync with each other?

It doesn’t always have to be this way. For example, last evening, I was checking into a hotel and the person at the registration desk had to ask for my credit card a second time.

“Do I get to pay for someone else’s room too?” I jokingly asked.

“Oh no,” she replied, “That would cost me my job and I love my job so much, I wouldn’t do anything to lose it.”

As you might imagine, that answer was music to my ears and it made me think how wonderful it was that both her expectations and her employer’s expectations were in so much harmony. Is that too much to expect in our business?

Without the benefit of an on-the-spot interview with this young lady and her supervisor, I thought it might be appropriate to imagine how this seemingly successful relationship was being sustained. Perhaps we can identify some common denominators that would apply to the employers and employees of our industry.

UP-FRONT EXPECTATIONS

Being a counterman for an import specialist is a demanding role and it takes a certain kind of person to succeed. When we advertise for positions available in our company, we have the expectation that interested candidates have a genuine desire to be a part of our growing and fast-paced industry. “Desire” should be the first emotion that every applicant feels about the prospect of a new position. It’s that initial desire that fuels every new work relationship and helps provide the enthusiasm that gets new employees through the apprehension that happens to everyone during their first few weeks at a new job. Without the desire for a new position, the rest of the employee’s goals don’t stand a chance.

It is certainly the desire of every employer when they hire someone new, that the experience will be mutually rewarding and beneficial for everyone. No employer hires a new person with the expectation of failure. That just wouldn’t make sense.

Sustaining a good relationship, of any kind, requires communication. Two-way communication is critical, but it seems to be the first opportunity for an otherwise positive relationship to start going astray. Good communication provides employers and employees the benefit of understanding what is really important to each other. It is that understanding — mutual understanding — that nurtures and sustains the working relationship. A breakdown in communication creates a void in understanding, and after that, nothing feels good anymore.

No relationship is ever perfect, so patience and flexibility must become key elements of success for everyone involved. Have you ever heard the expression that marriage is a 50/50 relationship? Well it is — kind of. My experience is that a good working relationship is like a good marriage.
Too often, there is no place to compromise. Each party involved must accept some things that they don’t agree with. These may vary from business to business but it will always be true. So, flexibility and patience are always important.

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

The remaining aspect of a solid and rewarding working relationship is positive reinforcement.
Employees usually understand their need for positive strokes, but too often fail to see that their employer needs those “strokes” too. It is really disappointing for an employer to try hard to provide additional benefits or incentives and never hear a positive comment about their efforts. If this happens consistently, employers give up trying and that is never healthy for the employees of any company.

This process becomes another part of communication and we can’t emphasize enough how important communication is throughout an employee’s career.Desire, communication, patience, and flexibility, and positive reinforcement — it sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? We all know it isn’t, but the key is for all of us to try our best to make it happen. If it hasn’t happened recently in your company, maybe it’s time for you to step up and make the first move.













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