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The Priority is People


~by Heather Strohm

Regional Extension Educator, Community Development – Purdue University


Over the course of time, most companies develop and establish a set of priorities – either intentionally or unintentionally – from which they operate. It is critical to recognize how those priorities affect organizations at the people level. What is the climate of the company? How do the employees engage with one another and management?

Providing employee care extends beyond pizza Fridays, nap pods and nostalgic happy hours. It is each employee, regardless of their rank within the company, feeling like the company genuinely values them. An impactful way for managers, CEOs and owners to do this is through a commitment to support their employees in advancement and growth. Whatever shape or form that may take.

Investments in employee development and talent is a long-term initiative, but it leads to short-term rewards such as loyalty, improved performance and greater engagement.

Provide Professional Training Options

Set a foundation in your business for fostering success with your employees. Give them the tools and resources they need to successfully complete and exceed at their jobs. What are the best practices for your industry? What is working well in your company? What is not? As a company, are you open to new and innovative ideas from training outcomes?

Assist Managers to Become Better Coaches 

A core aspect of becoming an effective coach is learning about your environment and those around you; their unique strengths, what drains them, and what motivates them so you can help guide them on their path to success. One way to accomplish this is by asking the right questions at the right cadence. Here are a few questions you can start asking some of your people every week during check-ins and one-on-ones

  • What’s going well in your role? Any wins this week?
  • What challenges are you facing?
  • How are you feeling? What’s the morale around you?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled are you? Why?
  • How can I become a better leader?

These questions are simply a guide. The purpose is to establish a connection and relationship on regular basis to build that deeper relationship.

Enhance Cross-Departmental Collaboration 

Significant effort and intentionality must be placed into relationship building. Nurturing a cohesive workforce can build gaps between personalities, cultures and departments. The challenge is alignment and consensus on a mutual goal.

Invest in Personal Development 

Your employees don’t just exist in a professional capacity to serve your organization. This includes:

Emotional balance
Inquire about your employees. Ask questions like, “How do you feel about your work lately? Are you struggling with anything?” By engaging with these questions, it meets basic needs that are to be seen, heard, acknowledged and validated – needs that often go unmet in the work setting.

Intellectual growth
Podcasts, books and seminars don’t just have to be about business. A company can provide continuing education around personal finance or fostering healthy relationships.  Be creative and provide development and growth, “think outside of the box” for your employee needs.

Physical health
Encouraging your people to step away from their desks when the workday is complete and allowing them to practice more self-care shows that you don’t just depend on the skills on their job description, but you care about them as people.

Employees who are given appropriate tools and resources to complete their jobs are more inspired to do their best work. And your company reputation for providing that launch pad for employee development might just encourage the best, talented, brightest and most resourceful candidates join your company team.

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