I had the opportunity to provide the keynote address at a client's annual team meeting in New York recently. For most organizations these types of events are honestly, quite boring and attended only by those employees who couldn't come up with a believable excuse not to attend. This organization, however, is different. Their employees are different, and their success and growth rates are different. Why? They believe in the power of their employees.

I started to get an idea that something was different, when a few weeks before the event, one of the branch managers shared that she and her entire team look forward to the annual meeting every year. Weird.

I also noticed a difference, when a few days before the event, I picked up the phone for a conference call with the senior management team. They didn't realize I was already on the line. I heard laughing, giggling, and then the VP of Administration saying, "Hey, hey, now we have to behave. We'll be talking to our speaker here shortly." Laughing? Senior management? Surprising.

The difference almost stunned me when I walked into the presentation hall. All of the employees were there. They were smiling and laughing. Many were hugging their colleagues from the branch offices who had only just arrived. They were congratulating one another on specific accomplishments they'd achieved. They introduced themselves and each other to me. In doing so, they'd say things such as, "Liz, this is Terry. He is the manager of our Juno branch. He has completely turned that operation around. He's done a great job for us." And this introduction would be made by one of their peers - not one of their superiors! They appreciated each other as team members. Amazing.

Weird? Surprising? Amazing? Not really. Not when I asked how they'd achieved such a cooperative, collaborative, and positive environment. Their answer? Their people. They hire right. They train right. They retain the right people. But how do they really do it?

First, they've learned over the years that having people with the right attitude is key. If they have employees who want to be there and who want to learn, they can train them how to do just about anything necessary. Because of that, they have a 3-step hiring process: telephone interview, 3-person management team interview, and finally a 2-person interview with the candidate's prospective peers. This has got to be an incredibly time-consuming and expensive process, right? Yes. But it's amazing what will slip by the professional HR screeners and management team. Candidates often "let their guard down" when they talk to prospective peers.

Second, they orient every prospective and new employee to the organization's Corporate Values immediately and continuously. These "House Rules" are then used on a regular basis to help guide the employees' personal and professional growth, development, and overall performance. The organization has made it very clear, what the expectations of behavior and performance are -- and they stick to them. They've earned a reputation in the community for being a very "select" employer. But they're the employer everyone wants to work for.

Third, they work hard. They've got a strategic plan that's shared with the entire employee population. Each employee knows how he or she fits in to the overall plan. Everyone has goals. Everyone is important and they know it.

Fourth, they play hard. They like challenges, but they like beating their challenges so they can celebrate them. Several employees had prepared a video that chronicled this past year's celebrations. They celebrated reaching a set of goals with two managers shaving their heads. They kicked off a new sales promotion with male managers dressing up as cheerleaders to "send the team off". They had a group of employees sing a congratulatory song to those employees who were celebrating their anniversaries.

This organization is different. It loves to play. It loves to work. It loves its people. It has worked hard to create an atmosphere that challenges yet rewards its employees. Because of that, the employees love it. Because of that, the organization is successful. That's the power of people.

Copyright 2008, 2004 - Liz Weber of Weber Business Services, LLC.
Liz speaks, consults, and trains on Leadership Development, Strategic Planning, and Organizational Change. Additional articles can be found at http://www.wbsllc.com/leadership.shtml
Liz can be reached at liz@wbsllc.com or (717)597-8890

Permission to reprint this article is granted as long as you use the complete attribution above - including live website link and e-mail address - and you send me an email at liz@wbsllc.com to let me know where the article will be published.

Author's Bio: 

"In the words of one client, ""Liz Weber will help you see opportunities you never knew existed.""

A sought-after consultant, speaker, and seminar/workshop presenter, Liz is known for her candor, insights, and her ability to make the complex ""easy."" She creates clarity for her audiences during her results-oriented presentations and training sessions.

Participants walk away from her sessions knowing how to implement the ideas she's shared not just once, but over and over to ensure continuous improvement and management growth and development.

This former Dragon Lady has been there, done it, and learned from it. Whether speaking to corporate executives or government agency personnel, Liz's comments and insights ring true.

As the President of Weber Business Services, LLC, a management consulting, training, and speaking firm headquartered near Harrisburg, PA, Liz and her team of consultants provide strategic and succession planning, management policy & systems development, employee training, as well as marketing and media outreach services.

Liz has supervised business activities in 139 countries and has consulted with organizations in over 20 countries. She has designed and facilitated conferences from Bangkok to Bonn and Tokyo to Tunis. Liz has taught for the Johns Hopkins University's Graduate School of Continuing Studies and currently teaches with the Georgetown University's Senior Executive Leadership Program.

Liz is the author of 'Leading From the Manager's Corner', and 'Don't Let 'Em Treat You Like a Girl - A Woman's Guide to Leadership Success (Tips from the Guys)'. Her 'Manager's Corner' column appears monthly in several trade publications and association newsletters."