Allow me to preface this blog by stating it is in no way, shape or form, intended to diminish or minimize the risk that owners take every day by operating businesses in the healthcare staffing industry. The purpose of this is to describe a disconnect that can often occur between the sales force and upper management within a healthcare staffing company. It is intended to serve as a platform for open discussion between these two groups and to ultimately create a better working environment for all.
Last week a client and I were talking about the Simon Sinek TED talk in which he discussed the importance of the “why” in business and leadership. Why do we do what we do? If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it; it is inspiring, eloquent, and thought provoking. Simon tells us to, “Imagine a world where people wake up inspired to go to work.”
All That Glitters Is Not Gold
In the healthcare staffing world there is confusion about what is necessary to inspire and motivate members of the sales team. Truth be told, many staffing firms have developed elaborate perks for their employees. From full-service gyms on property; fully stocked refrigerators to prepare meals; pool tables, foosball tables, and massage chairs; sports cars for top sales performers. Literally speaking, there are many companies spending thousands upon thousands of dollars each month to provide “things” to their staff. When it comes to perks there seems to be little left to the imagination! These are great things and there’s nothing wrong with providing them to employees. However, “office glitter”, aka “things”, are not what inspires your sales team. Well-intentioned leaders and owners mistake these objects as a manifestation of the company’s culture falsely, assuming that as long as they offer sales professionals the “spoils” they will be inspired.
But what is culture then and how does it relate to the WHY? By definition, corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards and beliefs that characterize members of an organization. By definition, culture isn’t tangible. Culture IS that which defines a company, organization, or group of individuals. In simple terms it is what you’re all about. WHY you exist as a business. And WHY others should care that you do exist.
Grow Where You Were Planted
Inspired by this topic I spent several hours of time researching dozens of temporary healthcare staffing company websites. In doing so I found that nearly all of them had their company vision and mission statements positioned front and center on their homepage. Statements likely written during the company’s inception or shortly thereafter. To be perfectly honest, they all sounded similar; “Best in customer service”, “building relationships”, “commitment to integrity”, “teamwork”, I could go on and on. These missions and visions are what the company culture was built on. This is WHY your people come to work and do what they do.
But are these vision and mission statements driving your actions when times are tough and morale is down? Are they solving problems for your staff when they need it most? Are you still embodying the spirit of these vision and mission statements? As an owner, leader, or manager ask yourself whether your WHY been compromised?
A common mistake executives make despite concerted efforts to avoid it is replacing the WHY and it often results from a focus on the bottom line. Every business needs to generate profits no doubt. But, when a business is flourishing it’s because it has remained true to a vision or mission. Most noteworthy, the owners and leaders have clearly articulated the WHY, and their sales staff accept it to be true based on action, not just words alone. Staff remain engaged and will pour their blood, sweat, and tears into the company and for its leaders. Belief is a powerful thing.
Belief can build a business from a startup to a national powerhouse. It can also tear a powerhouse down if the vision of the owners and executive staff do not align with the sales staff on the front lines. The longer this condition persists the more devastating it can be to a business. Over time the staff who once poured everything into the company come to resent the new vision. Once they have lost belief in the leaders of the company it is very difficult to bounce back. Diminished morale and turnover are early signs the tide has turned.
Some Parting Thoughts…
I encourage each and every one of you to take a step back and consider your WHY. Why do you make the decision every morning to come to work? Is it hard for you? WHY should anyone want to work for you? Find out what it is and make that the reason you get up every morning. Leaders, you should know this about EACH and EVERY one of your employees. And when you start to fall short of your goals, THAT inspiration is what will carry your team across the finish line. THAT is what builds a culture which welcomes inspiration,trust, and mutual respect.
In certain instances, owners and leaders seem to have forgotten it’s not the house, nor the contents (or objects) of the house, which make it a home. It’s the people in the house, who share a vision; connect on a personal level; form bonds and attachments to one another; respect and listen to each other even during challenging times. This is what builds a foundation far stronger than the steel structure which surrounds them at work. This inspires many of them to come in to work each day. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this-please share!