Loosen the Reins

loosen the reins on your teamI was having coffee with a friend who mentioned that they were in a staff meeting and he requested that they be allowed to access the building at least 15 minutes prior to the start of their shift so they could be ready to work at starting time.

His question was met with an icy “We’ll see” response. Currently employees can get in the building only 5 minutes before work. So…an employee arrives early to avoid getting stuck in traffic or to account for other potential delays and they have them sit out in their car!

Now I am not the brightest guy in the world (which my friend Randy tells me all the time) but I do believe that it is in the best interest of the employer to let people in early so they are ready to work at starting time.

The message this sends is the employer does not:

1) Trust you

2) Doesn’t care if they inconvenience you or

3) They are simply MORONS!

Ironically – as we talk about getting people more “engaged” we also seem to be caught up in a paranoia that we have to have greater control for fear that if we don’t – something “can happen.”

I am just the opposite – if you want people to be engaged, make decisions on their own and take hold of their jobs you need to send that message with signals like letting people come in early, not looking over their shoulder, and allowing them to make more decisions on their own.

The last thing an organization wants to do if you want to get your people “engaged” is send the message that they don’t want you there early or that you don’t trust them to be their early.

I am the opposite – come in early – for that matter- EVERYONE come in early so that you have your coffee prior to starting work, chat with your coworkers etc. and are ready to crank at your starting time.

Create an environment that is different and attractive where people ENJOY coming in because the atmosphere is such that they are viewed as trusted, valued employees.

Hey what the heck – I would even buy the coffee if that’s what it takes to get my people to come in early like at this company!

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drew-zuckerman/5830162952/in/photostream/

Jeff Kortes


Jeff Kortes is an employee retention expert who speaks and conducts workshops regularly in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana. He draws on his experiences as a human resources professional, father, coach, martial artist and U.S. Army veteran to provide thought-provoking programs that yield results.