Thursday, June 23, 2022

Pride of Workmanship

To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.

— Doug Conant

Lunch this week at the 
Wildflower in Tucson reminded me that employees thrive on hard work, when it's demanded of them.

Expecting her to answer "higher wages," I asked our waitress at the end of the meal why the restaurant was able to attract good help.

She responded by saying the owner held every employee to impeccably high work standards—a brisk form of accountability that she found refreshing in the food service business.

"The owner has an 'employee first' approach, if you know what I mean," she said.

I did.

"Employee first" is a business ethos. 

New York restaurateur Danny Meyer pioneered it.

After years of watching restaurants he worked in fail, Meyer arrived at an important realization: the true customer of a restaurant is not the diner, but the restaurant worker. 

So Meyer designs restaurants that cultivate proud—and loyal—workers.

The keys to those environments are discipline and dedication. 

Slackers need not apply.

"Your brand is never better than your employees," Meyer once told executive coach Erica Keswin. "And your employees are never better than the degree to which they are engaged in the reason your company exists."

A new study by Gallup finds that most workplaces are "broken."

Six of 10 employees are "emotionally detached" from their jobs; and 2 in 10 are "miserable."

A mere 20% of the workforce is engaged. 

No surprise, organizations with engaged workers enjoy 23% higher profits than those with disengaged ones. 

They also enjoy lower absenteeism, turnover, and accidents.

In pursuit of those things, some misguided companies think they can instill "employee pride" through propaganda.

They remind me of the restaurant in "Office Space" that demanded its servers wore "flair" to demonstrate a "fun attitude."

Propaganda gets you nowhere.

High standards, on the other hand, appeal to employees' self-worth.

High standards separate the wheat from the chaff because they make the work worth doing.

They also discourage half-assing your way through the workday.

"There are people who try to look as if they are doing a good and thorough job, and then there are the people who actually damn well do it, for its own sake." novelist John D. MacDonald wrote.

The latter are the people you want in your organization.

But sadly, perhaps because they're run by insufferable assholes, most American companies have forgotten about pride of workmanship.

Which is why 80% of workers are either disengaged or miserable.

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