My dad owns a business. From the time I was little, he let me learn about it, and learn from it. I’ve always been around his work, and I’ve seen how hard he works for us.
I’ve also often been around his employees. I’ve seen how much my dad does for them, and how he always wants to do more. I remember sacrifices he made during slow times to get everyone through.
And I remember that so often, his sacrifices seemed to go completely unrecognized.
I’ve been an employee myself for a while, and this subject really interests me. I feel for both sides of it so much. I’ve seen the stress, and pressures, and defeats that business owners face. And I’ve seen those in employees.
How do we bring both sides together? How can you? How do you get great people to come to your company, embrace the vision, do their work well, stick around, and stay happy with what you can give them? How do you have an employee engagement breakthrough?
I first wanted to figure this out so I could help my dad, but now I want to do it for all of us. So let’s start with you, and your company. I made a list for you, of the most important things you can give to your employees… and there are only three things on it.
There might only be one thing you’re hearing about from everyone, but it’s nowhere to be found on this, and it’s not here for a reason. Making a living we can live on and support people with is important.
But it’s not everything. Here’s what comes first:
2. Working with great people
3, To know you care
Yes, there are plenty of ways to address pay, and benefits, and other things we ask for, but these are what comes first. This is your foundation and filling it can change everything for you.
So let’s get into it!
We have to progress to be happy. We have to constantly be learning and improving.
A lot of us start feeling stagnant in our jobs. We might do the same thing over-and-over every day, and there can come a point where it’s no longer challenging. And the job can start to look like a dead end.
Here’s how you can keep that from happening:
- Help your employees to achieve their personal goals.
Pursuing our goals is so important for our happiness in life. If you are supporting the process for your employees - they won’t be the only ones celebrating success.
But later, when you’re alone, think about what you learned during your meeting, and how the company might be able to help support the employee’s goals more (different hours to allow for school, additional/new assignments or responsibilities, a seminar that would benefit you both, etc.).
- Help them to use their other talents and skills.
This doesn’t take an overhaul. Adding in extra ways to use different talents will make the same position and job description feel fresh and fulfilling.
Learn your employees’ other strengths by looking back through resumes, asking around, taking time to observe, and asking for their help when you have a problem to solve.
Once you know what else an employee is good at, give them opportunities to use and develop that skill here. It could be with a different assignment or project now and then, or asking for his input during a meeting, or asking for his ideas.
- Send everyone back to school.
Don’t worry, it’s not as drastic as it sounds. And there are lots of ways to put this in place and support the whole process, whether it’s done on or off the clock.
First, make a big list of subjects, and don’t stop at things related to job descriptions. You want to expand everyone’s horizons – beyond the stuff they deal with every day. Think in terms of both hard skills and Behavioral Skills. (Leadership; confidence; presenting/leading a meeting; setting and working toward goals; writing; finance; communication; collaborating; business; foreign language; sales; increasing profits; being a friend; positive daily habits, etc.)
Then decide how and when you want them to learn, and get your academy in place.
You can make a schedule where you have people taking some time during their workday to read/watch/listen to the study materials of your choice. You can also give a bonus or some other incentive for doing one of those things during off-time if the employee demonstrates (through a course certificate, presentation, report, etc.) that he/she really did the studying.
You could assign topics to people, have them study on their own time, and then prepare to teach their coworkers at an upcoming company meeting. When it’s possible, you can send key employees to seminars.
Finding ways to give growth to your employees is so worth your time and effort, and even some possible expense. This gives so much joy, and energy, and confidence, and drive. Good for you, good for everyone.
WORKING WITH GREAT PEOPLE
I think every article ever written talks about this one:
“Great people want to work with other great people.”
Great people want the people they work with to inspire them, motivate them, and influence them for the better.
And you want everyone to feel like they’re working with great people on every level. Here are some ideas on how you can make it happen:
- Start watching out for, and seeing the kindness in your employees.
It happens all day every day, and it usually goes totally unnoticed and unappreciated. But don’t let it go unnoticed by you, or anyone in management positions. Go on daily treasure-hunts for good deeds, so you can have a company full of them. Then give recognition to encourage more goodness and kindness.
- Evaluate business practices – as well as your own
Make sure they paint you and the company in a virtuous light. You want to inspire the people who work here by making this a company where everyone at every level does their best to do what’s right.
- Do some research into specific charities/organizations in your area
Corporate Social Responsibility is an important part of any great company. Have out a different collection box every few months, where you can all toss in things. Post information about needs in the community, and how everyone can help.
If you can, donate actual time. Tell everyone when and where you’ll be, and invite them to meet up with you if they can. Every so often, you could do a “charity highlight”, where an employee can volunteer to give a presentation on the cause of his choice. And your reward for helping employees to work with good people?
You’ll have a place full of people with character. A place where people help and support each other. A place good people will love to be part of.
TO KNOW YOU CARE
I’ve heard my dad say to his construction crew, “I love you guys.”
Is that way too much? A little heavy and awkward? Maybe it could be, coming from someone else, but he makes it… work. And I’ve noticed some of the guys have picked up the habit with each other.
“Love you guys!”, I love it!
But you don’t have to get mushy about this. You can show everybody you care in a way that’s comfortable and natural for you. Here’s some ideas:
- Give them your trust, and your respect.
…So you can earn trust and respect from them. While you show you care.
- Don’t hang over them.
- Express your confidence in them.
- Give them the chance to prove themselves.
- Give them freedom to problem-solve their own way.
- Let them pick their own projects (where possible).
- Give deadlines for work, instead of hours to work in (also where possible).
- Ask for their input when you’re looking for solutions or new strategies.
- Take an interest in them.
When you take an interest in what’s important to them, they’ll be more likely to take an interest in what’s important to you.
Get to know each employee, and find out about their life, hobbies, and interests. Remember what they tell you, so as you come across articles/events/other things related to those hobbies and interests, you can share them.Learn each employees’ interests and skills so you can offer projects related to those. Find ways to show you care about each employee’s ability to spend time on the things he cares about. Help each employee to balance work and life, and support them when they need to recharge.
- Give recognition & appreciation.
Giving these won’t just show you care. These keep motivation up; energy up; drive up. And you want all those running at top-speed.
Notice the good things your employees do and hand out praise. Thank them for what they do for you and the company.
When a project suddenly changes direction or cancels, help everyone who worked on it to keep a feeling of pride and satisfaction for all their effort (even if they didn’t get to finish, and even if their work won’t be used), by taking time to review what they did, praise them for the quality, and ask them questions about the process.
- Be kind.
Ah, the Golden Rule, and it’s so appropriately named! You probably don’t need me to tell you how to be kind, but I’ll give you some ideas anyway:
- Respond with patience and understanding when someone makes a mistake.
- Take time to regularly ask if there’s anything they need.
- Ask how they’re doing and listen to the answer.
- Smile at them, greet them warmly, and be happy to see them.
It doesn’t take grand gestures to show employees you care. But Grandma was right when she said this stuff comes back to you.
Let’s recap the plan so we’re all ready for our next workday! You’re going to give your employees:
2. Great people to work with
3. The confidence that you care for them
And you want to make haste.
Each employee you already have has so much potential - and you can tap into it. Don’t see this as a list of demands; see it as a list of strategies for bringing out the best in each person you’ve got.
You want everyone there thinking, gosh, I really matter to them; gee, this is a company that cares; wow, it feels good to work for good people.
And once that starts, it will be such a good day for you.
Joanie is a part-time employee with a mission to end the Sunday Night Blues and start a new way of working. She uses what she’s learned from her experience to help employees have happiness, fulfillment, and high-performance in their jobs, with a revolutionary approach to goal achievement. Learn more at: useyourjob.com/about
Her latest book, As Its People: A 90-Day Challenge, is for employers, managers, team leaders, and HR professionals, and gives actions, strategies and habits for having motivated, engaged and high-performing employees. It’s available in paperback and Kindle at: www.amazon.com/author/joanelmore