RISMEDIA, Jan. 23, 2008-(careerbuilder.com)-Despite what you may think, it is in fact possible to gain an employee roster chock-full of people with a strong work ethic who also love coming to work every day. Wait – don’t spit out your coffee just yet. We are not saying it is easy to do – but with some simple steps toward building the character of your workforce, it is achievable.
Employees with strong character are better for your organization. However, people are not born with strong character; they acquire it through their experiences and environment.
Those possessing strong character typically have five key traits in common: self-understanding, responsibility, attitude, balance, and vision.
Most people are strong in some, but not all, of these areas. In order to build and improve upon the character of your current workforce, you must first understand what the five key traits are and how to infuse those traits into real-life work situations.
1. Extended Impact
A person’s work, volunteer activities, and personal life all inherently influence others in far-reaching ways. For example, a garbage collector can easily see that his or her job is to collect trash and deliver it to the local dump or recycling center. Unfortunately, customers do not typically show appreciation for garbage collectors and instead take this line of work for granted.
Because of this, it is important for a manager to help every employee understand the extended impact of their job; not just what they physically do, but how their work impacts society.
They are, however, quick to complain about interrupted or poor service. Many blue and white-collar jobs have similar issues regarding direct appreciation. Because of this, it is important for a manager to help every employee understand the extended impact of their job; not just what they physically do, but how their work impacts society.
The writer of this article recently had an experience in which his garbage collector acted irresponsibly in two ways: he left trash in the street that spilled when a bag broke while he was loading the truck and then, in true football fashion, punted an empty trashcan into a neighbor’s yard. This event created a disruption and consequent mood shift in the writer’s life, and his neighbors’ lives as well.
Employees who understand their extended impact grow in character as they grow in experience. Periodically discuss this with your employees and educate them on ways that performing their jobs with a focus on excellence will result in a positive impact on society.
Discussions such as these will create goodwill toward your company, and even if customers fail to show their appreciation publicly, your workers will understand the important role they play in each and every customer’s life.
Responsibility involves being dependable, keeping promises, and accepting the consequences of what one says and does. It is extremely difficult to determine the responsibility level of a candidate during the interview process, but it helps to look at the candidate’s recent positions as well as any philanthropic activities he or she has taken part in. Examining and inquiring about these two areas will help you gauge the extent to which the character trait of responsibility is developed in the candidate.
Increasing the project load for your employees may seem like the obvious way to build responsibility in your current workforce. Instead, why not take a unique approach and encourage your workforce to take part in volunteer activities? Many people do not or would not volunteer on their own and aren’t aware of the benefits of giving their time to the community.
The personal satisfaction gained from volunteering inevitably influences character and helps employees recognize the importance of being socially responsible. Volunteering also affords companies the opportunity to develop the character of their employees while positively impacting society.
Your employees will begin to realize the impact they have on society and this will likely translate to a more positive demeanor in both their professional and personal lives.
Encourage your employees to participate in a variety of group and personal volunteer activities throughout the year. Your employees will begin to realize the impact they have on society and this will likely translate to a more positive demeanor in both their professional and personal lives.
A positive attitude is a must in any and all working environments. It is arguably the most important character trait to possess – and also the most difficult to build. The positive attitude that employees display when first hired often fades over time. Reinventing job functions often makes work enjoyable again and quickly corrects attitude problems.
Job rotation is a good option to help convert negative attitudes into a positive ones. Boredom, complacency, and frustration can creep into the workplace when employees stay in the same position for too long. New challenges and an opportunity to contribute in a different way can cause a quick change in attitude.
In addition, relevant team activities can help dramatically. Company outings and other team-building events can serve as a catalyst to initiate change. When planning activities, consult some of your key players for feedback on what will be enjoyable for the employees, and not perceived as a waste of time.
4. Balance – Work/Life Relationship
All work and no play is no good when it comes to building the character trait of balance. Your employees should be well-balanced and have as much of a life outside of work as they do at the job.
Getting out of the office and taking part in activities that they enjoy helps your employees come to work each day refreshed and ready to perform at their highest level.
Getting out of the office and taking part in activities that they enjoy helps your employees come to work each day refreshed and ready to perform at their highest level. Well-balanced employees demonstrate a passion for recreational activities and a healthy relationship with family and friends.
Some employees do not understand the need for balance in their lives. Although it is tempting to over-work these kinds of people, they will eventually burn out. Fostering the development of balance in your employees means encouraging them to actively participate in a social life outside of work. This could mean offering to pay entry fees for a marathon or contest of some sort, or simply awarding extra time off to employees to be used as “family time.”
Urge employees to use their vacation time for trips to experience new places, to catch up on work at home, or to simply relax and read a book. When they return, take an interest in their experiences, ask to see pictures, and listen carefully to stories so that you can ask relevant questions (asking questions indicates that you are sincerely interested).
People exposed to various cultures, or with an understanding of history are more likely to have a stronger sense of balance. Be proactive about giving employees an opportunity to experience various subcultures within your community.
Encourage vacations to remote destinations or give employees opportunities to experience a different culture as a reward or incentive. Consider ways to educate yourself and your staff on history, literature, or even classic movies to broaden their interests and cultural appreciation outside of work.
People with a personal or professional vision are an essential part of every successful company or organization. Not everybody has this trait, but everyone can receive vision from a good leader.
Setting short and long-term goals will help create a vision in every employee. Meet with employees and help them build a personal development plan with both personal and career goals.
Also share the vision for where you are taking your team, and the company over the next few months, quarters, and years. Employees who understand the vision, and have goals that are part of achieving the vision, will be powerful assets.
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