Category: Hiring People

Equitable decision-making

Becoming intimate with your personal values and business ethics can guide you in times of crisis; those times when you don’t know where else to turn.

I realized that inclusion was a defining value of mine after completing a series of leadership workshops years ago. During a problem-solving exercise, taking in the moment, I scanned the room. We’ve all been in a situation just like this — there’s “that group” of 3-4 loud individuals debating what to do, opinions and ideas are coming from everywhere. It can be chaotic, especially for team members that don’t tend to speak up.

My sights landed on a person at the other end of the room, her body language suggested that she was slightly disengaged. I noticed a sigh and eye roll. “I bet she knows the answer,” I thought to myself. I quietly snuck over to get her read on the situation. After warming up, she offered the answer in a nonchalant manner. In my head, I exclaimed, “I knew it! She did know the answer!” I gently encouraged her to find the courage to speak up. If she didn’t interject at a workshop like this, when would she?…

As managers in organizations, how does this resonate with you?

How would the inclusion of voices that might not easily be heard shift the trajectory of your organization?

What I do know is this: “we don’t know what we don’t know until we know what we didn’t know.” Including employees at all levels of the organization will uncover hidden profitability gems. Now — more than ever — your business could depend on it for survival.

Here are some lessons I learned that day:

  • As the owner of my business, I need to watch and listen. Louder individuals have the confidence to speak up but there is genius behind those that are quiet.
  • Examine your process: how do we make decision-making inclusive in our organization? Are voices from all areas of the organization being considered and if so, do people feel comfortable sharing opinions? How can I engage with those who may be resistant to expressing themselves?
  • Marginalized voices are less likely to share opinions due to a number of things like peer pushback or judgment, stereotypes, and systemic racism that I may not even see or know about.
  • Having diverse voices at the table is step one; but are those voices cultivated, encouraged, and amplified in my workplace?

I hear this all the time, “But Amanda, at my business we have to make decisions quickly. I don’t have time for this.”

I’m not going to say there’s a quick way to build inclusion into how you do business. Especially if people have been burned in the past. But, there are ways to start, and putting in that effort will pay off over time.

Here are some ways to start integrating inclusion into your company processes:

  • Random anonymous surveys and send out frequently. From the results, there is transparency of findings, swift actions are taken, and excitement and accountability at all levels for improving the workplace dynamics.

  • Know your team and celebrate uniqueness. Know what makes each team member tick and encourage them to contribute in a way that is comfortable for them. For example, some people need brainstorming sessions to ideate while others need quiet time.

  • Explore bringing in a common language. I used CliftonStrengths in my business. It was a way for our team to know where each other’s talents were and how to ask for help. As a manager, it helped me identify pockets of talent and where (and how) to bridge any gaps.

Having used CliftonStrengths in my food business for years, I know from experience that it is a powerful communication tool to improve workplace culture. I wrote about this experience in this previous post >>

I’m now a certified CliftonStrengths coach who can implement this in your organization. Let’s dig in!

Hiring – shift from filling a job to growing with a person

Like many, my first jobs were in the restaurant industry. Over time, I went from fast food worker to hostess, then to server and bartender. I rarely held a job longer than one year until I was 23 years old. 

This being my background — at my core — I know why employee development is not a top priority for owners or managers in high-turnover, entry-level jobs.

In 2012, when I launched my bakery  I was determined to have a food business that centered around people’s growth. I knew my employees wouldn’t be with me forever, but while they were, I wanted them to feel valued and heard, to have a sense of purpose. My bakery was just one step in their life-long adventure. I sincerely wanted my employees to grow up and out of my business and into higher-paying jobs.

My rationale was that if I created an ecosystem that values people, they would help my business both in the short and long term. Let me provide a few examples of how:

  • valued employees give better customer service thus they affect your conversion rate and number of transactions
  • positive morale increases productivity
  • turnover negatively affects your profitability
  • post-employment you have a loyal customer
  • post-employment you have a trusted referral source

At the base of growing this people-forward work environment was CliftonStrengths (previously StrengthsFinder). A friend of mine introduced me to CliftonStrengths and since then, I’ve spent more time working on what I love and more time hiring people to work in areas I don’t love. 

I grew my team from one employee to 15 and the fundamental reason why I implemented this in my business was to have a common language for us all.  Here’s a sample of what I gained from implementing CliftonStrengths in a bakery setting:

  • A common language to talk about strengths/blind spots (weaknesses).
  • A deep understanding of my own talents and how to leverage the talents of my team to minimize my blind spots.
  • A focus on coaching the employee on how their talents fit into their job and how to leverage the talents of the team to support their blind spots.
  • Knowing how to thoughtfully reward an individual for their work.
  • Developing a growth-focused relationship with employees.
  • Lower turnover rate even in a high-turnover industry.

And believe it or not, there’s much more!

From there, we can create a process around employee onboarding and check-ins that support employee development professionally and personally. All these systems save you money, increase your business’s capacity for growth, and will set-up your company as the desired place to work in your industry.

This all starts with you. Let’s dig in!