By ‘Lola Thompson Makinde
When you walk into one of John Lewis’ 46 stores in England, you will be served by a genuine stakeholder of the company, not just a committed employee. John Lewis has adopted a unique business model that ensures that every employee is not just a unit’s manager, but a partner of the business. A partner who has a right, once he gets employed by the organization, to knowledge, power and profit sharing. This ‘Out-of-the-Box’ model, might be extreme to most Nigerian companies, but it is noteworthy that a store which is only 10 years old, has a turnover of over a hundred million pounds and is favorably competing with brands like Marks and Spencer that have been around since 1884.
What can we learn from John Lewis’ culture about a well-disposed employee who is not only engaged but adequately empowered?
Let us look at the 3 key rights given to the John Lewis team members (partners) that make their business outstanding:
Several studies have shown that, where clear-cut information has been exposed to team members about the state of a business or key reasons why decisions have been made, productivity of employees improves. In addition, there is improved quality as employees see the need to improve. Secondly, there is an increased respect for management’s decision as they are aware of the reasons behind such decisions. Thirdly, knowledge promotes a work environment filled with trust, which reduces staff turnover.
An organization with the culture of providing autonomy to employees encourages them to take ownership of their work, know that they are valued and also empowers them to make an impact. This in turn positively affects productivity. You can empower your team by:
Communicate when they are not meeting expectations. To maintain accountability you must ensure they understand the consequences of failure. You need to be consistent and ensure you use the same standards and rewards for yourself as a leader, as well as, all employees. For effective results, as the leader, you need to be seen as accountable to your employees as much as they are accountable to you.
Conclusively, in answering the question, “Would you rather have people work for salary or work to contribute? “ think of how big you want your business to grow and how important your employees are towards achieving that vision.
Employee engagement is having employees who are not just disposed to their employers, but who feel like partners in the business and are therefore willing to ‘contribute’. In the end, achieving employee engagement is never a quick fix, but it’s worth the efforts.