By Thomas Walter with Molly Meyer
Tom Walter is a “serial entrepreneur” who has launched nearly 30 companies. He is the CEO of Tasty Catering, named one of Winning Workplaces best small companies in 2010. He is the author of the forthcoming book, It’s My Company Too! This post is republished with permission from Serial Entrepreneur.
- Look for team activities on the applicant’s resume. Working successfully in a team is a crucial ingredient to any successful workplace. Athletes and team competitors know how to motivate others, have leadership qualities and know how (and expect) to sacrifice for the good of the team. All of these qualities are priceless (and crucial) when it comes to Olympic potential.
- Ask about volunteer roles. Volunteering shows passion, and it reveals that the applicant has the capability of feeling passionately about something. Volunteers make the ultimate commitment—doing something completely for free, a characteristic of born Olympians.
- Ask key questions related to culture Learn what runs deeper than skills and knowledge with these questions: Describe the culture in which you are most productive and happy; Describe the leadership style that will bring forth your best work and effort; Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team; and, What would your former employees say about you? Potential Olympians will have good, honest answers to these questions, because they know how they work best and are always striving to improve themselves.
- Note any questions asked of you. Applicants that ask questions of you—not just those that could have been answered by perusing your company website, but questions that dig deeper—prove they already have an interest in something more than a paycheck. Look especially for questions about the company’s vision and core values and how those core values are enacted throughout the organization. This shows they care about what your company is, what it can become, and how it will become that way, all indicators of potential entanglement.
How to Keep an Olympian
- Clearly align the organization with a path and direction, and make both known to everyone. The more you exhibit your company’s clearly stated values, vision and mission, the higher you raise the expectation level for your employees. The more employees see the values, vision and mission, the more ownership they have over those aspects of the organization. The values, vision and mission become a part of your employees’ every day. There is no guessing when it comes to behaviors and actions. “Will this help me reach my goals?” becomes “Will this help my company reach its goals?”
- Find out employees’ goals and see if, and how, they match up with those of the organization. If the goals don’t align, that doesn’t mean this particular employee can’t reach Olympic status. It just means you might need to spend some time getting to know what is important to this employee. If there is something you or your organization can do to help bridge the gaps, then take action. Whatever you do will go miles in your employee’s eyes, bringing him or her closer to entanglement.
- Give recognition and rewards. Publically and privately recognizing employees for things they’ve done well is the basis of positive reinforcement. Making the transition from engaged to entangled requires encouragement, and recognition and rewards are the two largest ways to encourage that an engaged employee to take his or her work to the next level.
How to Build your Olympic Workforce
- Applying for culture awards, like Best Places to Work and 101 Best and Brightest. Olympians like to surround themselves with other Olympians. Applying for (and wining!) culture awards will gather the attention of other like-minded people and potential employees.
- Asking for employee feedback. You don’t always have to go outside of your organization to search for Olympians. You can help your existing employees entangle within the organization by asking for employee feedback. Find out where improvements can be made, and start a discussion about the concept of entanglement and what it will take to get them there.
- Doing something with your employee feedback. Act on this great information straight from your employees’ mouths! Tasty Catering formed a Leadership Team to address employee feedback and concerns. The Leadership Team is responsible for deciding where the company should go and what actions should be taken with regards to employee feedback. Acting on employee suggestions is a huge step toward making employees feel valued and appreciated.
- Praising and rewarding continued education and training. Tuition reimbursement and paid certifications are great ways to encourage betterment, for both the employee and the organization. As long as the training or education is applicable to the company, rewarding that behavior will urge other employees to better themselves in their job roles and encourage entanglement. Entangled employees are lifelong learners; they feel at their best when they can constantly improve themselves.