(As published in the Sunday Star Times, March 1, 2015)
Last week I talked about how important it is to encourage and motivate your team, in order to move towards a more engaged, more productive and more profitable business. It might seem crazy that merely working on a more engaged workplace can increase your profits by more than double, but your team has the power to make or break your business success.
Think of your best people – think of the value that they bring day in and day out, the enthusiasm, the drive and the initiative. And think how your business would look and run if it were full of people like this. Now it’s not too hard to fathom why a business can really take off it all its employees are motivated and productive, right?
Following on from last week’s column, here are four more steps I recommend to clients aiming for a more engaged workplace.
* Explain the big picture. Let people know how their jobs and outputs tie into the business’ goals and priorities. Many of your team may not understand the significance of their work until it’s explained to them. They may be surprised to learn their efforts could help generate additional business – knowing this may prompt them to devote extra time or energy. For many businesses, most of your team (especially below middle management) will operate day to day in a silo, where they just do their job. By letting them know the impact they have if they do their job well (or not so well), your people will know how what they do impacts on the overall results of the business. People are much more productive and encouraged if they know what they are doing matters.
* Promote two-way feedback. Supplement annual performance appraisals with periodic conversations. Let team members know right away when they’ve exceeded or failed to meet expectations. They can then take the necessary steps to perform their best work. It is proven that the most effective form of feedback for employees is a 10-minute catch-up once a month with the team leader. There is also a bit of skill in how to manage this catch-up, starting with the culture. Is your culture conducive to two-way feedback so that it is not just boss-to-worker but worker-to-boss? The most effective businesses really focus on ensuring there is an open culture where anybody can have an idea or give constructive feedback – the power of this combined team is immense compared to just a few managers running the business. Managers, are you truly open to receiving feedback on how you can improve your own performance? Where you are holding your team back from reaching the ultimate performance level? Bottom line: listen objectively to all ideas, proactively solicit them and take appropriate action. Get KPIs in place – choosing the right KPIs for each team member in your business can be business changing.
* Create a safe-to-risk environment. Allow employees to take prudent risks in their work. By demonstrating trust in your staff, you’ll inspire them to develop creative solutions to problems. If they’re too scared that using their own initiative could result in a bollicking, they won’t try new things. So you’ll get what you’ve always got and innovation in your business will be stifled. Make sure they keep you informed, but don’t micromanage their efforts. When mistakes are made, focus on what can be learned from the process instead of placing blame. If you have the right team, they’ll know to do the right thing, so trust them and let them do their job – all you need to do is properly set their accountabilities and timeframes.
* Lead by example. You can’t expect your team to be motivated if you aren’t yourself. Demonstrate the attitude you want others to emulate. Arrive at work with a positive mindset. Avoid complaining about other managers or business policies in front of employees. Don’t bitch about your customers. Simple actions can have a major influence on employee attitudes.
The great thing with these ideas is that they all contribute to better customer service – which means better customer experience, more sales, more long-term customers and great word of mouth. All of which is business changing, resulting in more cash-flow and profit. Bottom line? Improve your workplace engagement, pronto.