Considering a Passionate Outlet: For You and Your Employees

Derek Christian worked at Proctor and Gamble for 12 years and decided he needed a new challenge. My Maid Service is his outlet. He’s organized a small business around cleaning the homes for the affluent of Cincinnati. But as it says in the story on Small Business section, Christian experienced customer satisfaction issues.

Cleaning homes requires a high level of trust. Trust is earned over a period of time, so not only did My Maid Service have to have competent employees, but it has to have trustworthy ones as well. And trust is in the eye of the beholder. The problem is that very few people aspire to be a maid. His workers did the job as an income bridge on the way to another job. This results in very high employee turnover, creating a constant erosion of valuable client trust.

Christian recognized this non-monetary part of the business and took the position of the employee. He recognized their desire to find a job more closely aligned with a career and came up with a win-win. The agreement is that an employee signs on for two years of service and during that time Christian pays for online and local classes in the field of interest.

Dan Bobinski, a Boise-based management consultant and author of Creating Passion-Driven Teams,says Christian’s training strategy is both uncommon and strategic.”He’s looking at their motivation and saying ‘If you stay with me doing these menial jobs, I’ll pay for what you really want to do.’”

That can deliver bottom-line benefits. Hiring and training entry-level employees costs an average of $2,000, so spending money on programs that keep existing staffers around longer is a smart investment, Bobinski says. And training is one of the best benefits a company, even a small one, can offer. The number-one reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel challenged, he says: “People,especially of this generation, want to learn new things.”

It’s easy for a boss to think their employees are as excited about the work as they are. But the truth is they rarely are. It’s important to understand what they are really passionate about and foster a mutually beneficial relationship.


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