Prepare for Recovery: Build a Better Team in 2010

Since fall of 2008, hotels small and large alike have been shedding jobs and reducing expenses to weather this economic storm not seen since the Great Depression. Each month leaders look to the numbers on new job losses and unemployment applications for a glimmer of recovery. Most analysts are now saying that recovery will come sooner than later and hopefully by 4th Quarter of 2010. With better days ahead, I offer a little advice to area business hotel leaders, “Invest in training today to let your employees know you care.”

Sounds corny, but the survivors (those that survived the layoffs and position eliminations) are working with one eye on the job at hand, and the other on their next career opportunity, so says the recent study by the Conference Board which found only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work, the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board in their 22 years of conducting the study.

A commitment by an employer in training shows that the company or organization values the employee and is willing to invest in the team and expects the staff they have to be here for the long run. A lack of training initiatives has just the opposite effect. Employees see and feel the short sighted strategies of leadership and are hesitant to invest fully into the goals of the organization.

A study completed by Empire Research group on behalf on NorthStar Adventure at Dutch Springs, an experiential education and training center in Bethlehem specializing in team development, reported employee engagement and loyalty at all time lows.

The study mentioned that lack of employee loyalty slows corporate performance by 25-50%. “We see an increased disconnect between all levels of an organization,” says Jason Chartrand, Director of NorthStar Adventure. “Senior management needs to lead by example and participate with every business initiative to regain the trust of today’s workforce,” Chartrand added.

Studies show an increase in employee engagement can increase customer satisfaction scores by up to 50%. An unengaged employee or worst yet an actively disengaged employee can reduce productivity by 33%. A renewed investment in employee development and increased commitment towards developing high functioning teams will be essential for a company’s success in 2010.

An excellent read on team development is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. This fable tells the tale of a new manager trying to lead a team that needs to address five key challenges we all face in team development, Absence of Trust; Fear of Conflict; Lack of Commitment; Avoidance of Accountability; Inattention to results. Addressing each of these dysfunctions in 2010 with honesty and a sincere effort to be the best organization you can be will provide new opportunities for success.

Employee engagement does not have to be expensive, but it does have to be sincere. I recently saw where a local steak restaurant sent out a message on Twitter announcing an employee’s 4th year anniversary. This reminded me of the old fashion note effect. It is not the note itself that the employer writes to tell an employee thank you for a job well done as much as it is the fact that the supervisor stopped what they were doing and took the time to handwrite a note to the employee recognizing their accomplishment.

In addition, the next time an employee comes in on their off day to fill an unexpected shift, send a note of thanks to their spouse or children, thanking them for sharing that individual’s time with your organization. These small tokens of appreciation go along way, the next time you have to ask that employee to come in on their day off or worse have to tell them their portion of heath benefits is going up.

Excellent resources are available locally to assist area business leaders with managing their employee engagement. Eastern PA Chapter of ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) and SHRMLV (Society of Human Resource Managers of the Lehigh Valley) and The Consultants Forum all provide educational programs and facilitators to assist in creating strong leadership teams. The areas local chambers of commerce can also direct you to accomplished consultants and businesses offering corporate training and development.

Gregg Marzano, Owner Rainmakers Lehigh Valley
Director of Industry Relations, NorthStar Adventure at Dutch Springs
Member of ASTD Eastern PA, SHRMLV, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce, The Consultants Forum