Episode 3

Published on:

22nd Nov 2021

It's a Great Week to Give THANKS to Your Employees with Lisa Ryan

Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers' Network Podcast, the Thanksgiving week edition. Yes, it is Thanksgiving week in the United States, and doing something special today, I thought we'd talk about the THANKS process.

This concept is what I talk about in the programs that I do. It's about creating a culture of appreciation in the workplace, so you can keep your top talent from becoming someone else's.

Engagement is essential in manufacturing because it is difficult to find people who want to come into manufacturing and stay in manufacturing. We also want to create the type of culture that makes people want to stay with us. By looking at the six steps of the THANKS process. by the end of our time together, hopefully, you'll have some ideas that you can start implementing not only throughout the holidays but all year long.

When we look at the acronym THANKS, the T stands for trust. So what are you doing with your team to establish trust? There are too many times that you're thinking about, oh let's try this new product, let's try this new program, let's do this new engagement initiative. Your employees are thinking, oh no one more thing; they're going to try to bring us in to get more productivity to try to squeeze more effort out of us.

After a couple of weeks, you drop that and go right back to doing something else when it doesn't work. Find one thing that works, find something that works for you and make a commitment to doing that. Listen to your employees, ask them for the things that they want to see. Now, sometimes that can be scary because you're thinking they're going to say, well, I want $10 more an hour, and I want to work, three days a week, Or I want to work remote. You're working manufacturing gotta show up and run the equipment can't be working remotely.

Look for ways to build those relationships by consistency by transparency. Too many times, managers believe that employees are only out for there's. Too often, managers believe that employees are only out to serve their self-interests. But, unfortunately, employees believe that management is also out to say and have their self-interests. When we create the type of culture where both sides can see that we're working together for the benefit of each other, then we can establish trust.

Your employees aren't necessarily going to like everything you tell them. But, when they know that you're coming from a place of transparency, you're coming from a place of their good. You're looking out for the organization and what you're trying to create there. Then, over time, things will start to change. Your culture took a long time to build. It is certainly not going to change overnight. That's the thing with building trust. It takes a long time to establish, and it can evaporate with an eye roll.

Think of some of the things you're doing that can establish that trust. For example, how have you built trust with some of your top team members?

The H in thanks is how you help your employees. How do you help them be better tomorrow than they are today? This means investing in your team members. Too often, managers will say, if I spend all that money on training, those employees will take all that investment and go somewhere else. So let me ask you, what if you don't invest in them and they stay? No employee ever quit because of too much training. As we're having millennials and gen Z in the workplace and gen alpha following them, these people are looking for professional and personal investment. That's just that skills training in the plant, as far as what they're going to use, it's personal development. So looking at that employee holistically, what can you do for them that will make them better in every aspect of their life.

I spoke at an HR conference, and I asked the question now, how do you invest in your employees? A woman raised her hand, and she said that they give every employee 1500 dollars a year to invest in whatever personal or professional development they want. You could almost see the heads of the accounting managers exploding. They were trying to figure it out. We have 500 employees. Here we don't have that kind of money laying around. I asked them what percentage of your employees take advantage of that, so think for yourself you're giving your employees 1500 dollars, they can invest it. However they want, what is the percentage of employees that you believe would take advantage of that.

The actual number when I asked her was three to 5%, so you're giving a benefit to all of your team members, and yet only a small percentage of them are going to take you upon it. Do you know who those people are? Those are your future leaders. Those are the people you keep an eye out for. There are lots of different ways that you can incorporate training in your facility. You can offer lunch and learns. There are tens of thousands of hours of video uploaded to YouTube daily.

Find a topic that your employees want to talk about that they want to learn about, and having that same conversation with each other to grow and develop together is inexpensive. It'll cost you lunch, and that's about to have that kind of in-house training providing resources to your employees and teaching them how to use those resources in case they haven't picked up a book since junior high or high school nonfiction book. I should say. You can have you and do training in house and create a learning culture. You can also bring in somebody from the outside. Yes, that is a shameless plug. But if you think that when you get somebody in that, your employees aren't used to seeing daily, the chances are good that they will hear things differently from that person.

Think about sending your employees to your industry's trade show. Not only is it a great recruiting tool because there and we talking about it to their friends when they got the bar next Friday. They'll be talking about this great event that their company just invested in them to do and their friends, going to be like, wow, how do I work for a company like that. It also allows your employees to see what's going on in the market and what's going on with the competition. What's going on with their customers? So they will become even more committed to your company and to your industry - and they will stay in it.

We're building trust; we're helping our employees to be better tomorrow than they are today. So next, we go on to acknowledge, applaud, and appreciate our employees - catching them in the act of doing things well and recognizing them immediately for their actions. I'm not saying that you have to go around and give trophies. It's about acknowledging them for their work instead of saying, hey, great job. What's so great about it?

You're paying attention. I appreciate that you stayed after your shift and helped us get that order out. The customer was delighted, and we appreciate you very much. You're letting your employees know that you are paying attention to the things that they're doing.

There are all kinds of things that you can do, but one of the most effective is to come up with your own all about me sheet. This can be a survey that you can find out from your employees as far as your favorite candy bar, your favorite gift card, your hobby, and your favorite restaurant. That way, it allows you to personalize your recognition of them because it's really easy to go to your local coffee shop and get a couple of hundred dollars worth of $10 gift cards so that you can get past those out your employees. But what if they don't like that brand of coffee? What if they don't like coffee? Some people don't, so you're finding ways to recognize them and also specifically. It's not about the money. It's not making some big grand gesture because if you're giving away too much money in these prizes or whatever they are giving, it actually can be a demotivator.

Because the rest of the employees will be like, how come he got that, how come she got that? I work just as hard, but nobody will begrudge that employee's $25 gas card because they went above and beyond.

Look for ways to incorporate peer-to-peer recognition as well, because what that does is also gives accountability throughout the whole shop throughout the entire department. For example, sometimes you may have employees performing at their peak when you are around as their manager. Then, the second the manager walks out, they are going back right back to their slacker ways. If you have some peer-to-peer recognition going on - catching people in the act of doing things well and acknowledging each other. You have not only more accountability built-in, but you're also helping your employees to build stronger relationships with each other.

Think about some of the ways you can start to recognize your employees and do that consistently. For example, using the all about me sheet, maybe putting together an employee experience team, that team has the power to go and interview employees and find out how they like to be recognized. If you're doing company functions, put a committee in charge of employees because they get to. Take accountability, take responsibility for it, and they also get to see how many details go into planning these types of events, so we're building trust, we're helping our employees, and we're acknowledging applauding their efforts.

Next, we're going to navigate the work-life integration face that these last 1920 months that we have been in this worldwide pandemic. Our priorities have changed. Maybe you had some of your team that was working remotely. Perhaps they are still dealing with the issues of their kids in school, having an immunocompromised person in the house, all of these different fears that are going on. Time is the most valuable asset that you have to share with your employees. So having some flexibility in your scheduling these days is key.

Finding out what would make their lives a little bit easier if they're coming in and half-hour early or leaving or coming in a half-hour late. Whatever it is so that you have that communication going. People know what to expect when it comes that you can have lots of flexibility. It just comes down to making sure that you know from a communication standpoint. Realize that if you have employees working remotely, taking that away from them and demanding them to return to the shop full time will probably not play out well for you. People want to have that flexibility and know that you trust them. Empower them to make their own decisions; to keep their schedule. As long as the work is getting done, does it matter when, where, or how it gets done? It's getting done and, in most cases, when you empower your employees with that type of flexibility.

You're considering that there is more in their life than just the job. So you're looking for ways to give them tools. Work-life integration is how you're going to have a much more committed, loyal team.

Trust, help, applaud, navigate - now we get to know our employees. Of course, some of your employees will not want you to know anything about them. They want to keep their work in their personal life separate. Those people seem to be fewer and far between. Your employees want to know that you care about them as a person. You've heard the saying before that people don't quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. If they have a boss who is indifferent to them, it doesn't take the time to get to know them, get to know a bit of them, even greet them by name find out how they're doing, the chance of keeping them is much smaller.

You can use that all about me sheet. First, you can find out things about your employees. Then, you can have them share in your meetings. Starting the meeting by sharing good news, for example, kicks the meeting off on a much more positive note. But it also allows your employees to know things about each other, because it doesn't have to be all plant-related. The good news that they're sharing is that they can share what's going on with their kids with their family with their vacation, whatever they have and then we're allowing these.

Other relationships to form Gallup organization when they take a look at what constitutes a highly engaged employee is that that person has a best friend at work, not a good friend, not people they tolerate but a best friend so when you create those types of opportunities for people to get to know each other during work hours after work hours, it makes it much harder for them to quit because they don't want to leave their best friend behind.

We've built trust. We've helped our employees. We've acknowledged their efforts. We've navigated work-life integration. As a result, we get to know our employees, and we serve a greater mission.

You're just not making pieces, parts, or components at your plant. You are contributing to something, whether it is the life-saving equipment in a hospital or working on airplanes, the grocery stores, whatever it is. We break it down into that greater good. Employees want to feel that they are contributing to a mission that is greater than them. Think about things that you can do to share that with your employees. They had one of my clients. They are a spring manufacturer. They had it every week. They would take one spring, and it would be a part of the week, and they would hang that up on the wall. They would show the spring they were making, and then they would show a picture of where that spring went. The people on the line are seeing that I'm not making just a spring I'm contributing to this bigger piece of equipment I'm contributing to building the so you're getting that immediate gratification.

What are you doing to give back? Are you allowing your employees to get involved in charitable opportunities? Are there organizations that your company contributes to? There are Apps for that that you can have your employees? Choose a charity they want to support, build a team, and go off, whether it be once a quarter, twice a year, or whatever it is. They're giving the opportunity to give back. When you look at the research surrounding volunteerism, for example, there forms a different type of connection employees feel good about doing that, which makes them feel even better about working for your organization. Get your employees involved in the process, maybe having people submit their favorite charities to their favorite organizations and then voting on which ones your company will support during this particular time. There are so many things that you can do, and these are all, of course, done over the long term.

In this week of thanksgiving, think about what you can do to thank your employees—building that trust—helping them to be better tomorrow than they are today—acknowledging their efforts by catching them in the act of doing things well—navigating work-life integration building flexibility as much as you can to give that precious commodity of time to your employees—getting to know them as people getting to know their likes. What lights them up? Finally, serving a greater mission.

I'm Lisa Ryan. I appreciate you and wish you and yours the happiest of thanksgiving this week and an upcoming holiday season. See you next week.

Listen for free

Show artwork for The Manufacturers' Network

About the Podcast

The Manufacturers' Network
Connecting Manufacturers with Manufacturers
The Manufacturers' Podcast is THE place for manufacturers to connect with and learn from other manufacturers. Not only will listeners get to learn from their manufacturing colleagues, but they will also discover HOW they can help each other as a resource or as a source of help and inspiration.

As a manufacturer, it's easy to get pigeon-holed into only focusing on your own industry, whether it be through your industry trade association or your industry colleagues. While trade associations are an excellent source of information for their members, sometimes it's gaining a perspective from someone else in a completely different industry that gives you the solution to your dilemma.

Stay tuned for new episodes every week on "Manufacturing Monday's." This drive-time length podcast will give you the information, tips and strategies you need to get your week off to a fantastic start.

About your host

Profile picture for Lisa Ryan

Lisa Ryan

As a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an award-winning speaker and author of ten books, Lisa Ryan, CSP, works with her clients to develop employee and client engagement initiatives and strategies that keep their top talent and best clients from becoming someone else’s.
Lisa’s expertise includes: strengthening workplace culture, improving employee engagement, increasing customer retention, and initiating gratitude strategies (“Grategies”) for personal and professional benefit. Lisa’s participants enjoy her high energy, enthusiastic delivery and quick wit and they leave the session with ideas they are committed to acting on immediately to make positive workplace culture changes.
Lisa costars in two films with other experts including Jack Canfield of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” She is the Past-President of the National Speakers Association, Ohio Chapter and holds an MBA from Cleveland State University.

Relevant Experience

• Keynote, breakout or workshop speaker at more than 100 national and international conferences
• Thirteen years of industrial marketing and sales experience, including seven years in the welding industry – and yes, she does weld
• Host of “Elevate Your Engagement Levels: What You Need to Know” on the Elite Expert Network and the C-Suite Network
• Creator of “The Seven Mistakes Managers Make to Crush Company Culture” video series
• Best-selling author of ten books, including “Manufacturing Engagement: 98 Proven Strategies to Attract and Retain Your Industry’s Top Talent”
• Award-winning speaker