Everyone wants to work at a quality company. Each of us wants to feel good about our place of employment and see our company's name on the "most admired" lists published each year. It's an admirable goal and the right thing for your employees. From a talent standpoint, it's critical. Attracting the best and brightest – those you can rely on for superior performance year after year – is not only a function of great recruiting on the part of the recruiter, but also a function of the company's reputation in the market place. Face it, it's easier to recruit for Google than for Countrywide Home Loans (voted wost company in America in 2008).
It's Not About the Big Stuff
When working with clients on ways to influence their employee behaviors and reinforce cultures, it seems that the first discussion is always about the "big" stuff – the program, the reward, the system. The client almost immediately wants to launch something with a splash and show the employees they mean business with their reward and recognition initiative.
I'm not against big launches, but what's really important is the little stuff – not the big stuff. I think we can take some direction from the "Broken Window Theory" (BWT). While still a bit controversial among social scientists and psychologists, I believe there is enough directional evidence that we should pay attention to it.
For those that are unfamiliar with the BWT – it probably got its best press during the Rudy Giuliani years…
Sweat the Small Stuff
When it comes to company culture and having a reputation that attracts and retains quality people, the small stuff is the important stuff. If the boss adds a little to the expense account, maybe the CFO adds a little to the balance sheet. If the person in the cube next to you treats a vendor poorly, then maybe that vendor adds a little extra to the invoice next time – or tells 100 people not to do business with you. In fact, in November, CBS on line had an article entitled "Bad Behavior Contagious, Study Finds" – highlighting some of the research on this phenomena. For me, steeped in social psychology and the impact of the social norms – it's a no-brainer. But most folks blow off the effects of small behaviors.
Keeping your eye on the small stuff is probably the single biggest thing a company can do to influence culture.
Some Comic Relief
When thinking about the Broken Window Theory for this post, it reminded me of a Demetri Martin bit… for your enjoyment…
Paul Hebert is Senior Account Executive at WorkStride, Inc, and a writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on helping connect best-in-class incentive technology platform to behaviors you need drive business results through employees, channel partners and consumers.
Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.
Other notable activities:
- Interviewed by the BBC on executive motivation and pay
- Quoted three times in USATODAY as an expert in incentives and channel travel programs
- Published in Loyalty360 magazine
- Writer and founding member of the editorial advisory board at the HRExaminer website
- Contributing author of “Enterprise Engagement: The Textbook: A Roadmap to Achieving Organizational Results Through People”
- Contributing author of 3 books on social media “The Age of Conversation #1, #2, and #3”