Prey to the Cat Burglar?
Here’s How You Can Help Catch a Thief
by Paul Bieber
To Catch A Thief is a wonderful Alfred Hitchcock movie about a cat burglar, played by Cary Grant. To clarify, a cat burglar is someone who operates stealthily and can steal almost anything from anywhere at any time.
Would you recognize a cat burglar if you saw one? This one in particular looks a lot like you. He is in the glass business. But cat burglars operate after hours.
He is setting up his plot at a local restaurant, in the booth in the back corner. He is waiting for the call that will confirm his break-in at your company. What is he stealing? Your single most important asset: your people.
What can you do?
1. Keep strong communications with every employee. Have weekly 10- to 15-minute staff meetings with all of your leaders, sharing successes from each one and discussing future plans. Have each supervisor follow through to his team.
2. Have a monthly meeting with all employees. This should last about a half-hour. Speak for about 10 minutes updating your team with company news and then answer questions for the rest of the time. If the questions are personal to one team member, make an appointment later the same day to give an answer.
3. Have an effective employee review system, one that focuses on the future, not the problems of the past. (Note: USGlass subscribers will get free information by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
4. Give good benefits, most importantly in health care. Repeated surveys have shown this is more important than wages. People leave more jobs to gain better benefits than to get a higher salary.
5. Offer competitive wages. When your year warrants, give a holiday bonus.
6. Have company events where employees can invite their spouses and children. When an employee’s spouse likes the company, cat burglars have a much harder time.
Keep an eye out for employees who come to you asking when they will get a raise or a promotion. Employees who are happy with their job ask these questions when a cat burglar has made them an offer and they are hoping you will match it.
Keep an eye out for competitors who visit one of your jobsites or go to the local pub where some of your employees hang out. Have one of your most loyal foremen tell you whenever this happens. Do you call this competitor and gently tell him to back off? Of course you tell him to go play in another sandbox. Remind him this and it will be a two-way street.
If you and the cat get into an employee-poaching war, the one with the best employee benefits, communications and work conditions will win.
Last question. Should you become a cat burglar? Yes. Remember the two-way-street rule, but if you truly have a better company, with more opportunity, your meows will be heard.
Paul Bieber has 37 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at email@example.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.
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