JCK Show: Helping employees succeed

A company is known by the employees it keeps,” says Mary T. McGinnis, a vice president for the 65-store Ben Bridge Jeweler chain. McGinnis, who oversees hiring and training Bridge employees in Southern California, spoke about “Creating a Climate for Employee Success” to a crowded seminar on Thursday afternoon.

McGinnis suggested interviewing potential hires at least three times, which provides an opportunity to better learn about them and for them to “ease up and talk more freely.”

She uses a list of standards in evaluating potential hires. Those include the ability to put others at ease, effective communication skills, a strong work ethic, integrity (“good selling involves trust,” she noted), body language, loyalty (indicated by longtime friendship and relationships), the ability to tell a story, above-average marketing skills, a desire to serve, and a desire to learn.

McGinnis urged retailers to “focus on providing an environment for your people in which they feel they can contribute to the company and be a success, rather than hiring and retraining new people over and over again.”

She noted that employers often have mistaken ideas about what employees want most in their jobs. Surveys show that employers believe job security and promotions are highest on employees’ wish lists. While those are important, surveys also reveal what employees really want most from their jobs: “full appreciation for the work they do,” the feeling that they’re an important part of the company and are kept informed of what’s happening in it, and good working conditions.

McGinnis used role-play demonstrations to urge her audience to “recognize your people for a job well done, let them know what is expected of them, tell them how they’re doing, how they can improve, and the rewards for what they do.”

McGinnis also urged attendees to listen to what employees say and ask. “The most powerful motivating tool is listening to someone,” she said.

In closing, McGinnis told the audience to remember that “your relationship with your employees is like moving a piece of string. Push it and it won’t move ahead. Pull it, and it will follow you anywhere.”