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Glassdoor’s Top-Rated CEOs Share Best Leadership & Employee Engagement Nuggets

A recent Harvard Business Review survey revealed 58 percent of people say they trust strangers more than their own boss.

Navigating leadership development and increasing employee engagement is no easy task for leaders. Thankfully, leaders can lean on one another for advice & support along the journey. Glassdoor’s annual report announcing the top-rated CEO’s by employees, features 50 great leaders. We decided to interview a few of them to see what leadership & engagement secrets they have to offer the HR community.

We asked these CEOs to give us one engagement tip or nugget that they believe will most benefit leaders. Take a look at their responses below to get ideas on how to create and maintain a better employee experience for your team.

Keys on How to Create a Thriving Workplace Culture from Glassdoor’s Top-rated CEOs

 “Here is a simple thought that has helped me as a CEO: While in law school, I learned that the probability of a malpractice lawsuit drops around 10x if the doctor apologizes to the affected patient after a procedure goes wrong.  That always stuck with me because it was such a salient example of the power of an apology.  Most people are remarkably forgiving when the offending party acknowledges them and is sincere in their regret.  As a CEO, your actions can positively and negatively touch a lot of people.  When things go sideways, even when unintentional, and some folks in your organization are harmed, a heartfelt apology is often the best, and only thing, you can do.  It takes five minutes of your time and can substantially improve a team member’s feelings towards you, their job, and the company at large”- J. Taylor Olsen, Founder of Slingshot

Culture is job one. Culture isn’t the so-called “soft side” of business that entrepreneurs often think it is. You may have a fantastic product, but if your people can’t work together, your company will underperform or fail. You can actually have an inferior product and beat your competitors with the right culture. It’s that important. If you build an exceptional product and an exceptional culture, you create a nearly unbeatable combination.

Culture is not morale. You can have great morale in a lousy culture and poor morale in a solid culture. Morale is about feelings, which change constantly based on circumstances. But culture gives you the ability to bounce back—to get back up even after you’ve been punched in the gut.

To cultivate culture, we have to make sure we establish the right core principles, so they can transcend different levels of growth and different circumstances—good or bad. Our principles will be tested at each inflection point, and it’s fine to adjust them a bit over time, but the essentials need to remain intact. A culture is a lot like an app-development platform: you have to make sure you have the right infrastructure and tools in place for it to scale. When we created Skuid’s UX platform and our culture, we had scalability and flexibility at the forefront of our design. Ken McElrath, Founder of Skuid

These are the top ten things I instruct presidents to do to improve employee engagement.

  1. Create a Noble Mission
    2. Sit down with EVERY new hire, on their first day and explain your culture
    3. New Employee Orientations – make an employee’s 1st-day count
    4. Develop a meaningful suggestion program – Hey Brian! Program
    5. Do a 1-1 with every employee after one-year
    6. Over-communicate – Monday Morning Updates
    7. Personal Goals – help your team grow
    8. Open your books up & share details
    9. Explain that – profit is not a dirty word
    10. Make it personal – give away the house

Brian Adam, President at Olympus Group

I believe it is critical for Executive Leaders to intimately understand what happens on the ground and front lines. While there are multiple ways to do this, I have found the most effective way is to make time and actually spend time on the ground with those who serve your customers and directly lead front-line team members. Most Executive Leadership Teams justify their strategy or decisions with performance indicator metrics, big data, client feedback, and financial trending. While all are VERY important, having an intimate knowledge as to what your team members’ daily challenges, obstacles, and opportunities are provides better clarity when it comes to decision making at the executive level.Mike Keleher, President & CEO of Royal United Mortgage

My best tip based on what we do at PBD Worldwide is to work hard to retain the values of the organization that have made your culture what it is. That means hiring is as important as anything to keeping the kind of people you want in the organization as consistent as possible. There must be a values fit or you will implode the culture over time. I find our HR department is the most important piece to our success. They are PBD’s beacon. Scott Dockter, CEO at PBD Worldwide

Clearly, these CEOs are doing something right to be rated so highly by their employees and to be nominated for this Glassdoor report. We’d like to extend a special thank you to all who contributed to this article.

Creating and maintaining the workplace culture you want takes time and patience. One technique to ensure a thriving workplace is to establish a culture of recognition. A good recognition program helps to create a positive environment that fuels employee morale and increases employee retention. If you have questions about your current employee recognition program or are looking for guidance on how to start a program, one of our consultants would love to help you.

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