Thursday, May 28, 2009

HR Behavior - Better Employee Behavior

The vagaries of employee behavior—from chewing gum or potato chips while on the phone with customers to a penchant for showing up everyday at the office fashionably late—will gain consistency if you draw up the company’s behavioral preferences in the form of a contract. That's the advice of Quint Studer, author of "Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top." Studer offers tips for putting together your employee behavioral mandate:

• Don't Assume You'll Meet Resistance. "Most employees are as irritated by the offenders as you and your customers are," says Studer. "Most people appreciate having official guidelines—it eliminates their own confusion, as well as that of their coworkers."

• Common Courtesy Isn't Common. You might assume knocking before entering an office with a closed door is par for the course, Studer says. But for people who grew up in large families with few physical boundaries, knocking on doors might feel like a needless formality. "In other words, common sense is a subjective concept, depending in part on an individual's background," he says. "Still, it's very important that every employee display behavior consistent with company standards and aligned with desired outcomes."

• Behavioral Rules Create a Happier Workplace. Consistent behavior in the office means a better work environment. "Employees who frequently behave in ways their coworkers deem inappropriate are not contributing to a happy, unified, productive team," says Studer. "And here's the real bottom line: If you don't spell out which behaviors are acceptable and which are not, you can't hold people accountable for them."

• Draw Up Your Own Contract. Develop a "Standards of Behavior" contract, and have everyone, from CEO to receptionist, sign it, he advises. This document can address any work-related behavior, says Studer, "from interaction with clients to phone etiquette to 'good manners' (knocking on doors) to 'positive attitude' markers (smiling or saying thank you)." Then make all employees sign it.

• Seek Input From All Employees In Creating the Document. Put together a "Standards Team" to spearhead the initiative and create the first draft. "Be sure everyone has a chance to review the document and provide input before it's finalized," he says. "Do not have human resources write it and impose it on everyone else. You want to create buy-in, and that requires companywide participation."

• Align Desired Behaviors With Corporate Goals and Desired Outcomes. Take a look at your organization's long-term goals and areas that need improvement. "You must be able to measure the success of your standards by seeing an impact in many of the key metrics of your operation," says Studer, "whether those are increased customer satisfaction, reduced rejects, or other measures."

• If You Do It Right, Your Contract Will Serve As An Ongoing Reminder Of Proper Behavior. "Just knowing a Standards of Behavior document exists—and that their signature is affixed to a pledge to uphold it—is enough to keep employees on their toes," he explains. "It creates an extra boost of awareness that really does affect day-to-day behavior. It creates the same behavior expectations for the entire team. Best of all, it functions as a tidal pull on problem employees, bringing them up to a higher level of performance."


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