The American way

Craig J. Snyder wants his
employees to know that
they are more than just people working for him at
America Group Retirement
Strategy Centers. For example, if he hears an employee
has a son playing in an all-star baseball game, he’ll
write it down to remind himself to ask the employee
about it.

“I think that helps build
more loyalty and more credibility of them liking where
they are because they aren’t
just a worker bee, but they
are part of something,” says
the president of the financial
services group, which posted 2007 revenue of about
$9 million.

Smart Business spoke with
Snyder about how to create
an honest and open work
environment where your
employees will want to stay.

Q. How do you show employees you are honest?

It’s what you do. I don’t
know if there is a process. I
think it’s just in your everyday actions — how you handle yourself and how you
handle and work with others. People will pick up
whether they think you have
those qualities or not.

I think as in any relationship, not just business relationships, you have to have
open lines of communication
because it isn’t always 100
percent perceived by some
people that you are being
that. I think if that perception presented itself, that it
is essential as a leader that
you sit that person down and
you have a conversation as to why they may perceive
that something is different
than what it really is.

Q. How do you know if
someone perceives you
in the wrong way?

You’ll pick up on a tenseness or an attitude. I just
had that happen last week.
Someone’s not smiling,
someone is dropping their
eyes, someone’s walking
down the hallway without
communicating or saying
‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ at night,
which is out of their normal,
hopefully happy, routine because hopefully
people you are around
enjoy being around

I think it’s up to you
to go up to them and
say, ‘What’s going on?’
and talk it out. It’s no
different in any relationship. I don’t care
if you’re talking about
marriage or a business relationship, an
employee relationship, there will always
be times when something gets frayed from
an emotional perspective or a lack of perception.

If you don’t talk it out —
and I would say it’s very
true in marriage, but it’s particularly true in business —
then what happens is that
the festering starts to
become more of a problem.
Then it starts getting blown
out of proportion and then it
starts getting into a lunch
conversation, and now
you’ve tainted two or three
or four people on an issue
that wasn’t correct, that was
a misperception.