How Did I End Up Here?

By: Katrina Branson

You graduate from high school, go to college, graduate from college and start your job search, in search of money because, well, that’s what you need to maintain a certain lifestyle — the fine car you drive, the nice place you want to live and the stylish clothes you wear. So you look for the job that pays well, not thinking about starting a career.

After sending out hundreds of resumes, staying up all night drafting cover letters and making phone calls to Fortune 500 companies who have no idea who you are, you wait in anticipation of someone returning your call to schedule an interview, so you can tell someone who you are. Somewhere along the way you discover you are not what you thought you were because you lack the skill sets needed for the job or the experience required for the work you are hoping to do. And the degree you have is not as marketable as you had hoped when you started college your freshman year — 4, 5, 6 years ago.

You land a job, far from what you dreamed because you have to work. Your friends and acquaintances ask you what you do and where you work but you can’t clearly explain it and quite frankly don’t want them to know you are nowhere near the career you had envisioned. But it’s a job. And your job in some ways defines who you are. You try and make the best of it. But how? After all, “They took a chance in hiring me; they must see some value in me being here. “

Have you faced situations like these when you hire your employees? Here are a few things you can do as a manager to cultivate a sense of pride in that employee you just hired:

  1. Training & Development. Frequent, consistent, and ongoing training is necessary. Employees feel valued when they have expectations and opportunities to learn new things. Nothing stays the same. Your workforce is now more diverse, multigenerational. Your business grows and your employees should evolve with your business. Partner with your local workforce investment board for training opportunities and grants available to businesses and entrepreneurs.
  2. Feedback & Recognition. Your employees work for you and, as an employer, you want to let them know you appreciate what they do for you and your company. Kudos and thank yous go a long way to reinforce the exemplary service your employees give you. Say something nice. Tell them often. Not only tell them when they do wrong, but praise them when they do right. Use your top influencers as mentors for employees early in the onboarding process. Employee recognition programs are meaningful and money is not always the best motivator. Show your appreciation, acknowledge their loyalty, and recognize the commitment they have made to your company.
  3. Employee Engagement. Communicate, communicate, communicate and then communicate again. Share your company’s dashboard. Don’t be afraid of social media. Use social networking and other channels besides email to share information and instantly connect with your employees. If you aren’t up on how to tweet, post, pin, blog, vlog, podcast or livestream, hire someone who is. Be sure and start with Number 1 of this list (Training and Development) when you bring on your new hire. He or she may have had other career goals and just happen to have landed this job…for now.
  4. If all else fails, find out why. Create an exit interview for employees who decide to leave the company. Find out why they’re parting ways and what you could have done better to instill pride in their job and your company.

Katrina Branson is currently Director of Human Resources at Morehouse Community Medical Center. Her previous work includes Regional Industry Coordinator for Louisiana Workforce Commission in Monroe, Louisiana, covering eleven parishes, developing ongoing working relationships with entrepreneurs, employers, and industries cultivating sector initiatives to solve business solutions, address workforce needs and ameliorate human resources challenges. Her mantra is “Do what you love and love what you do.”

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