There are many types of partnerships in business, but without a doubt the most important one is with our employees. Especially considering today’s labor shortages, it’s critical that we establish true and appealing partnerships with our employees, especially those who are just coming on board.
I believe those in our industry have sustained a pretty good relationship with our associates. We did it because it is what we needed to do. But the relationship with our employees was simply transactional. They sold us their time and we paid them in return. It worked out well, most of the time. One could say it was a partnership, but it was more of a “they who have the gold make the rules” relationship.
Our labor force consisted of men and women who considered having a job a privilege and were happy to have one. In the past, there were always a hundred people in line for jobs and companies had their pick. Those days are now only an image in the rearview mirror. The thought of them feels like the good old days.
Now we not only have a shortage in our labor force, but employees are also much choosier about who they will work for. Indeed, they are not looking for bosses, but for work partners. They understand they are a hot commodity and can pick and choose where they want to work, and what kind of company they will work for.
We all have stories of hiring five people on Friday, only to have just two of them show up on Monday. Then, one of those two looks at the plating shop where he is about to spend his days, immediately turns around, and walks off the job never to be seen again. This is the world we now live in.
But I look at this challenge as an opportunity and chance to improve the way we work with our employees. It’s a chance to not only create a better partnership with our team members but to find better ways to partner with them.
Here are three things we can do immediately to not only inspire our own employees, but most importantly help new hires want to join our company:
- Show them the future. Joining your company is not merely a job, it is a career. Show them the future. Show them the places they can go. Offer career paths from where they are starting out and where they can end up. Many of us started in relatively low positions and are now making a very good living from our industry. Show them how that can be done. Use real life examples of a promising career path that will lead them to a very productive and enriching life. Show them how with ambition and passion they can move from the plating shop to lead, supervisor, manager, and even the process engineering positions. Its more than possible. Many of us are living proof that it happens.
- Show them the importance and the significance of what we are building. We are building integral parts of products that change the world. Remember the story of the man who came upon a construction site many years ago and talked to two masons. He asked the first one what he was doing. The man grimaced, his face wet with sweat, and said, “Why, I’m a mason I am laying stone.” Then the man went to the second mason, a man who looked inspired and seemed to be really enjoying his work. He asked him the same question. The man paused, looked up at the structure he was working on and said with awe in his voice, “I am building a magnificent cathedral!” If you think about what we do in our business, we are building magnificent spaceships, autonomous vehicles, and lifesaving medical devices, We are in fact building the products that as Steve Jobs said, “Do make a dent in the universe.” We must do everything we can to make sure that all our employees are our partners who are inspired by this vision as well.
- Treat employees as true partners. We must treat them with the same respect we treat all our partners in a way that we ourselves want to be treated—at all times.
You want employee who come each day ready to be inspired by greatness. Remember that the better and more passionate the team, the better your company will be. In the end it is always about your partners.