Every true leader knows that a happy employee is the lifeblood of their business. However, creating that happiness and maintaining it above what your competitors have to offer is no easy feat, no matter your experience.
Once you start thinking outside the proverbial box of salaries, cash incentives (which are still great, by the way), and sleek offices, you will discover an entire world of improvements waiting to happen. With a growing team under your wing, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and ensure that your leadership isn’t the stumbling block, but a stepping stone for their performance and growth.
1. Express appreciation
When you work with a slew of different teams, each of them belonging to a particular department, it’s all too easy to forget that your company is made of individuals. It’s one thing to encourage team spirit through proper task delegating and workload management, but a completely different one to neglect the contribution of an individual.
We all like being noticed for our outstanding accomplishments, and your employees are no different. Feeling invisible and unappreciated, on the other hand, leads to poor retention rates, and decreased productivity for those who do stay. Instead, focus on both team and individual achievements – send company-wide emails, sign a thank-you card, send them a gift basket, do something that resonates with your company culture to celebrate their work.
2. Embrace the learning curve
You haven’t become a leader by thinking you know it all, on the contrary. And you can only retain that title if you are open to the idea of continuous improvement. Whether it’s through getting an advanced diploma of management or taking regular seminars to boost your skills, you need to be the role-model for your employees.
There will always be another sales method to master or a negotiation skill to perfect, and when your employees notice that you are always eager to advance, they will want to follow suit. This also means you’ll be able to use new leadership strategies and thus ensure further growth of your business. Invite them to join those conferences with you, and you’ll show that you’re happy to learn from your employees as well.
3. Encourage balance
The simple truth is that there will always be more work to be done, so why not help your employees boost their productivity by spending time with the people they love and doing something to recharge their batteries? Of course, there are bound to be occasional late evenings at the office, but they will be much more eager to pick up the extra work if your predominant office politics is that they should leave early when work is done, and always have time to rest.
Paid gym memberships or similar activities they enjoy, access to healthy snacks and lunch packs, and a strict office rule that ensures no employee will spend their lunch break at their desk. Team-building sessions are an excellent way for your employees to bond, but giving them a few extra days off after a challenging project is even better to boost their morale.
4. Enable transparent communication
Monthly or quarterly performance reviews – they even sound so ominous that they couldn’t possibly be considered the cornerstones of transparency. You need ongoing conversations that don’t have labels which make you sit up straight simply by mentioning them. If you manage a large company with many employees, then an app such as Slack or Skype with groups for both professional and relaxed chats can help create the right mood.
Have those open-door Fridays when every employee can just walk in with their ideas, complaints, worries, problems, and suggestions. Let them know that their opinion truly counts, but that they can also count on you for help and guidance. After all, isn’t that the essence of leadership?
5. Build your company culture together
A typical job interview rarely takes into account how much can a given employee not just fit in, but contribute to your company culture. It takes time to get to know your staff, and even longer for them to understand the true purpose and vision of your business. However, if everything from your rulebook to your brand book is the reflection of your company purpose, they will be much more likely to understand and internalize that vision.
They are not just minions following orders or mindless cogs in a mechanism. Treat them as complete people that they are, include them in the weaving of your company story, and they will be fueled by their own passion for your mutual goal. When they start referring to your business goals in the first person, such as “We should really look into that project management app, it seems to be just the right fit for our scope of work.”
Sometimes, greater productivity of your team is only one thank-you card away, but long-term happiness in your company culture means fostering the right values from the very inception of your business. Take your time to get to know your employees, choose the right strategies to encourage growth, and your business will flourish.
David Webb is a Sydney-based business consultant and an online marketing analyst. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. In his free time, David enjoys writing and travelling.
He is a senior editor at BizzmarkBlog and a guest author on several blogs.