In most companies, the chief executive officer sets the tone for how people are treated. I consider the following corporate leaders to be models for how they treat their employees as individuals and take every opportunity to show them how much they are valued.
Be Accessible "Management is about organized common sense," says Andy Grove, Chairman of Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif. "We communicate and communicate and communicate, at every level, in every form. "To back up the company's commitment to "intellectual honesty," Grove conducts a half dozen or so open forums every year at different Intel locations. Whenever he is in his cubicle (everyone at Intel works in cubicles), any employee is welcome to drop by and speak with him.
Employee access to the CEO can be achieved in other ways as well. Scott Mitchell, president of Mackay Envelope in Minneapolis, holds a one-on-one, 20-minute discussion with every employee once a year to discuss whatever is on his or her mind. Mitchell devotes more than 170 hours to this every year.
Palmer Reynolds, CEO of Phoenix Textile Corp., a St. Louis-based institutional linens distributor, hosts a monthly breakfast with one employee from each of the company's five departments. Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of Rosenbluth International, a chain of travel agencies headquartered in Philadelphia, has an 800-number voice-mail box for employees to call in with suggestions, problems, or praise--and several do so every day.
Small Actions Mean a Lot Even small actions from the CEO can have great symbolic importance. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Dallas-based Mary Kay, Inc. made a commitment to meet with every new employee within 30 days of their hire. She once turned down an invitation to the White House because it conflicted with a new employee orientation session.
Herb Kelleher, CEO and cofounder of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, helps flight attendants serve beverages to customers when he flies on his airline. Ron Kiripolsky, former president of a 500-person division of PSA Airlines (now part of USAirways), used to open the corporate suggestion box at the beginning of each day and discuss the questions.
Do Something Daily My model CEOs show employees they are appreciated on a daily basis. Hyler Bracey, president of The Atlanta Consulting Group, puts five coins in his jacket pocket each morning and transfers a coin to the other pocket each time he gives positive feedback to an employee. Steve Wittert, president of Paragon Steakhouse Restaurant, based in San Diego, sends personal notes to employees whose performance is exemplary. To make it easy, he keeps a stack of thank-you cards by his telephone. For him, it's a few minutes to write a note; for his employees, it's a highlight of their day.
* Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay, Inc.--"Make people who work for you feel important. If you honor and serve them, they'll honor and serve you."
* Larry Colin, president of Colin Service Systems--"Our biggest asset is our work force and our growth comes from asset appreciation."
* Hyler Bracey, president of The Atlanta Consulting Group--"Praising employees brings so much more energy and enthusiasm to the workplace."