Do you reward cogs or linchpins in your organization?

The other day I was listening to Seth Godin’s new podcast, Akimbo

Do you reward cogs or linchpins in your organization?

by Ben Baker, Your Brand Marketing

The other day I was listening to Seth Godin’s new podcast, Akimbo.  The subject of the actual podcast does not matter, but at the end of the podcast someone brought up the subject about being perceived as a cog when they wanted to be viewed as a linchpin within the company.

For definition purposes, a cog is a replaceable part within the organization. Someone who does their job, follows instructions, is reliable and is low maintenance. In other words, they are compliant, do their job, but nor deemed extraordinary or exceptional. They are easily replaceable and do not add much towards the overall company growth.

A linchpin, in contrast, is someone who takes the initiative, leads from whatever position that they are at within the company, strives for improvement and questions status quo. They are deemed to be doers within the company and within the right organization are destined for promotions and growth opportunities.

In my early research for my new book Humanizing Your Corporate Brand, the anecdotal evidence has shown that there is a real disconnect between what companies say that they want from employees and what is expected from them once they are hired. 

Companies state repeatedly in job descriptions that they are looking for people “with initiative” and who have an “entrepreneurial spirit.” However, when those same people are hired, rarely is there a culture in place that rewards these linchpins for those qualities.

Few organizations are looking for people who constantly are questioning the status quo and how things are done. Even fewer organizations have the processes in place to enable those with initiative to create pilot projects to test their theories and see if what they are proposing could be rolled out as a new corporate initiative. 

So, the question lies, does your organization reward cogs or linchpins?

Do you truly have the processes in place and the culture to support it, to allow for entrepreneurial candidates to be successful, or are you just setting them up for failure?

Organizations need to look at their hiring practices and determine what they want and need before looking for job applicants. They need to take the time to determine how they can support these people who bring fresh perspectives into the organization. They need to look at hiring practices, how people are on-boarded, how people are communicated with, how goals are set, how goals are measured and if their compensation plan and reward structure align with the overall objectives of the organization.

Hiring people is easy. Keeping these people engaged, loyal, productive and feeling like they matter to the organization is hard. However, if all that is concentrated on is the former, and there is no process for the latter, these people will leave you at the first chance they get.

Now is the time to evaluate your entire communication structure and culture to determine if what you want and what you are promising people align. If not, the people that you hire can easily become the worst voices for your brand, spreading ill-will not only within their department but throughout the organization, to clients and beyond.

Remember, every employee has a voice, and they are not afraid to use it.  Each has a social media following, and it does not matter if it is large or small because each person within their following has followers, and the message is easily amplified.

Employees are representatives of your brand as they show up on their best days and their worst.  Every employee will have bad days, that is a natural occurrence, but why would you want to add to their dissent because you promised them that they could be a linchpin, but reward them for being a cog?

Too many companies feel that employees, especially Millennials, leave just because someone offers them a small raise or a title bump. In some cases that may be true, but my research has found that the biggest reason people leave is that they feel that their efforts do not matter and that they do not see a clear path to success. If organizations can clearly define for each employee, what value they provide and how their efforts help the organization succeed, and reward them for that, then people will be more apt to stay. Wouldn’t you?

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