Your small business encompasses your hopes, dreams and passions.
In the beginning it was just an idea written on paper, but now it’s an actual company steadily building in success. Although your first few employees share your enthusiasm because they got in on the ground floor, your later hires may differ in their opinions; you could have difficulty maintaining that initial feeling as you expand. Use these strategies to encourage all of your employees to treat your business like it’s their own.
Keep Communication Channels Open
Make yourself accessible to employees at every level of your company. You don’t want to position yourself as an unreachable owner they only see during special occasions. Eat in the same break room, spend ample time in employee meetings and check-in regularly with your teams. Show your staff you’re on the same level and you have an interest in their daily responsibilities.
Give Them the Tools They Need to Succeed
No one wants to do a bad job, but sometimes the only available work tools make it impossible to do things properly. Outdated workstations, difficult-to-work-with software and broken equipment lead quickly to employee frustration. Supply your company with the necessary tools to accomplish their job duties. Has a previous selection hurt more than it has helped? Sit down with the team and find out why it hasn’t work out and what they would like to see instead.
Consistency goes a long way toward creating a productive work environment. You should offer a standardized way of doing things, whether it’s the way employees log in to their work systems or the way they manage projects. Your staff won’t have to worry about the job environment changing significantly or unpredictable behavior from upper management.
Encourage Pride in Their Work
Many companies struggle with employee disengagement
. One cause of this problem comes from staff feeling like their contributions don’t matter. Let your people learn about your strategic business goals and how they personally impact the company’s success. Provide recognition for their contributions, and treat them as a valued part of your organization, not just an easily replaceable cog. You want them to go home and be proud to talk about their work with friends and family. The side benefit is improving your company’s reputation, since these stories pass through the staff’s social networking circles.
Offer Equity for Long-Term Employees
Help your employees feel like owners by giving them a personal stake in how well your small business does. Long-term staff, especially those who have been with you from the beginning, can receive equity in your company. They become more motivated to learn about operations as a whole and keep their eyes peeled for promising growth opportunities.
Get Their Buy-in for Changes
Are you thinking about making drastic changes that impact the way everyone performs their job duties, such as restructuring the company or replacing existing software? Spend time discussing what you have in mind, how it impacts them personally and what you have in place to make the transition easier. For example, if you buy a new application, you can explain how it makes their jobs easier by automating parts of the process. Offer a training program
designed to give them hands-on experience with the new system before it’s put in place, so you have a relatively smooth change over.
Career Skills Development
If you want employees to value your small business, you have to take a reciprocated interest in their career paths. Give opportunities for employees to expand their skill sets through cross-training, workshops, degree programs, hands-on collaboration and other learning methods. Not only do you encourage loyalty, but you also expand your available in-house resources. You may have a nearly impossible time looking for in-demand specialists, but if one of your existing staff members wants to learn about the topic, you have it right in front of you.
Ask for Feedback
Go beyond generic surveys and solicit feedback on your ideas for the company’s future. Are you interested in expanding to a different market? Do you have a brilliant concept for a product? Ask your employees what they think about these possibilities. They can let you know potential problems, based on the extensive customer input they hear on a day-to-day basis, or add innovations of their own.
You need to ride the line between involved and overbearing when you engage with your employees. Interacting with your front-line employees helps you stay connected with what they actually do on a day-to-day basis, but you don’t want to step on their direct managers’ toes or give the impression that you don’t trust their work. Spend all the time watching that you’d like, but defer to the managers in charge and take any concerns directly to them.
You want everyone in your company to act like owners, with all the care and attention that perception entails. This environment doesn’t develop overnight, however; when you use these strategies, you put a lot of time and effort into them over the short term. The long-term rewards more than make up for your initial resource investment, with higher employee retention and loyalty.
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