In a very real sense, your employees are your company. So, anything of value that you invest in your team whether it be time, money, or anything else is an investment you make in your business. The following tips offer 15 ways your company can win by building morale, developing skills, and encouraging better performance in your team:
Employee morale is one key indicator of the state of any business’s health. Improve yours by addressing the following five areas:
- 1. Work Environment: Put forth the effort to create a positive workplace environment. Be human in your own interactions with your team, and encourage a collaborative rather than a competitive spirit between employees. Do your best to foster an environment that makes your employees look forward to coming to work in the morning. If you succeed, you’ll be rewarded with a team that willingly does its best for your business.
- 2. Communication: Encourage communication between employees and management and welcome employee input. Implement an open-door policy at set times to allow employees to discuss concerns or offer feedback or suggestions. Always encourage the open sharing of ideas, which will help employees feel valued and might just provide the impetus needed to spark innovation. One management method that can help you improve communication with your employees while keeping your finger on the pulse of the day-to-day operation of your business is a technique called Management by Wandering Around, or MBWA. Don’t confuse MBWA with micromanagement, because the two are not the same. When done right, MBWA exerts a positive workplace influence, whereas micromanagement is considered by most experts to be a negative management style that might be described as “over-managing.”
- 3. Information Sharing: Let your employees know what the company stands for, what its strengths are, and the challenges it faces. Your candid sharing of this key “inside” information will give employees a reason to care about their jobs and about “their” company’s success. Knowing that you trust them with such vital company information will make them much more willing to take ownership of their own role in making that success a reality.
- 4. Respect: Always treat employees with dignity and respect, just as you yourself would like to be treated. You may be the boss, but don’t make that a license to mistreat your subordinates. If you do, you will undermine your own authority and diminish your stature in your employees’ eyes. You will also make it far more difficult for your employees to do or love their jobs. So, cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect, and your business will ultimately benefit.
- 5. Failure-Tolerance: Be a failure-tolerant leader. Recognize that failure is often simply one bump in the road to eventual success. Give employees the latitude they need to take calculated risks without fear of reproach if their efforts should fail. This is how innovators are born. When failure occurs, refrain from personal criticism, examine what went wrong, and help the employee learn from the mistake.
Providing the critical skills that help your employees fulfill their current and future responsibilities is not optional. Give your team the tools they need to succeed by using the next five tips to develop their skill sets:
- 6. Cross-Training: To keep your company running smoothly under a variety of circumstances, train your employees to do more than one job. Employee cross-training can be particularly effective for smaller businesses, though even larger companies can benefit from the flexibility this forward-looking employee development method provides.
- 7. Mentoring: Mentoring offers many opportunities for employees and companies. As a boss, you can mentor an especially promising employee yourself or pair an employee who is in need of development or who is ready to take his or her skills to the next level with a more experienced member of the team in a peer mentorship arrangement. A variety of mentoring types exist to help you more closely match your company’s needs.
- 8. Teambuilding: Provide the training needed to teach your employees how to operate effectively as a team. The time and effort you invest here will offer multiple advantages that will continue to increase as your team grows into its collective role. Teambuilding is as important to a smaller company’s overall workforce as it is to larger businesses with multiple teams or departments.
- 9. Formal Training: Consider which of the various types of formal training programs might be most appropriate for developing the specific skills your employees need to succeed, whether offered in-house, off-site, or online.
- 10. Skill-building: Develop your employees’ areas of greatest strength to bring real value to your company while providing opportunities for advancement for your team members. Recognize the natural talents your employees bring to their jobs and help them grow in these areas through training.
Motivating your employees toward better performance will benefit you as much as it does them. Focus on following the next five tips for giving your team the right incentives, and watch their performance improve:
- 11. Line-of-Sight to the Customer: Show your employees how their individual jobs fit into the bigger picture of serving the customer and contributing to a valuable outcome. This simple step can revolutionize your team’s entire outlook and boost its performance exponentially.
- 12. Empowerment: For effective employee performance, be sure to provide the guidance, resources, and authority your employees need to do their jobs. Don’t make the mistake of assigning responsibilities to your employees and then tying their hands. Let them make the decisions they need to make to serve your company to the best of their ability. Some modern companies are moving beyond traditional empowerment by empowering their employees online as well as off.
- 13. Accountability: Take the time to review employee performance and discuss outcomes to be sure your team is using its skills and authority well. Holding employees accountable for completing their assigned tasks and projects and meeting specific goals inspires better performance while eliminating the need for micromanagement.
- 14. Recognition/Rewards: Recognizing employees’ efforts and rewarding their successes can be a real motivator toward excellence. So, let your employees know you appreciate their work with a thank you or a perk.
- 15. Work-Life Balance: Encouraging work-life balance in your employees can actually improve their ability and desire to perform better at work. Many modern companies are engaging in innovative work arrangements that help their employees juggle the competing demands of life and work while providing crucial time to rest and recharge.
Investing in your employees may cost you something on the front end, but it will pay handsome dividends down the line by giving you a happy, capable, and productive team that will keep your customers happy, as well.
Blog post by Jeanne Dininni