As a coach I get to meet many business owners, but also talk to individuals about their experiences and working environments and how this affects their performance, desire and ambitions. One such case I came across recently sent a shiver down my spine, but really highlighted just how toxic situations can negatively impact on a businesses performance.
An example of how not to motivate staff
The particular person I spoke with recently had spent many years working in a relatively large business and found herself in a position that either she took the bold move to leave or continued her employment at the company which had unfortunately become very toxic and an extremely negative environment to work in. So much so, she had been able to reduce and change her part time working hours to avoid confrontation and conflict with the incumbent business owners, rarely coming into contact with them. As PA to the previous MD she had built a strong position of responsibility for herself in the business, but when the MD at that time decided to exit and move on to pastures new the atmosphere within the business took a nose-dive. People found themselves working in an environment that was run on fear. Fear in what mood the business owners would be in that day, and fear because confrontation was a regular occurrence. The mentality from the owners was to negatively conspire against their team on a daily basis, which in turn saw excellent members of staff leave and head for the hills. Can you imagine working in that environment? Needless to say, she took the first route and left the business!
This is a typical example of why it is so important for business owners to create the right kind of culture within a business. A positive working environment and culture that breed’s ambition, creativity, responsibility, desire and uncompromising loyalty. If you can as a business owner master a positive culture, this will impact positively on your bottom line. So, how do you achieve this?
Setting the tone, expectations and creating the culture
Communicating the role and expectations – something very simple and one of the major downfalls in business is not setting and communicating clear and defined roles with individual members of staff. A member of staff can feel unwilling to take responsibility because they aren’t always sure of what their responsibilities are. This invariably leads to a loss in initiative, and fear of making mistakes. Each member of staff should have a crystal clear path, which not only enables them to do their job properly, it also encourages them to excel at what they do.
Encouraging self-improvement– You actively want to encourage each and every member of staff to have the desire to use their initiative, and this should be part of their role within the business. A natural desire to excel and prove they can do more, and become more valuable to the business. It is a human trait to want to please others and be rewarded for achievements. If the role isn’t defined to allow members of staff to prove themselves, a business can lose a very positive psychological edge that invariably creates a great deal of opportunity. If you correlate this situation into numbers, some research suggests in the region of 20% of revenue could be lost through a general lack of staff initiative.
Setting goals and feeding ambition– It is true to say that not every member of staff is highly ambitious, but equally true that every human being certainly wants to be recognised for their hard work. Ambition comes in all forms and levels, but everyone is susceptible and has the desire to self improve. Listening to your staff and helping them to set goals for themselves is extremely important. It not only creates ambition, it defines their importance as part of the business, and the outcome is very often the individual member of staff creating his or her own expectations of what they want to achieve.
Appraisal process– I cannot stress just how important this process is. Listening to your staff is hugely important, and the appraisal process sets the scene for an open and honest conversation where you can listen to their concerns, assess their goals, ambition and desires. It is well documented that a third of employees don’t feel they are being listened too, and believe they are being ignored. Conducting regular appraisals can achieve a great deal of good for them and ultimately the business.
Rewarding achievements– Rewards come in all forms, from the verbal ‘well done’ or ‘great job’ through to more physical rewards, i.e., gifting something when a member of staff has reached their target. As I mentioned earlier, it is human nature to respond positively to a recognition of achievements, and building into your business an infrastructure and attitude that recognises success of this kind is hugely positive, ensuring your members of staff will want to continue to excel and prove their worth continually.
Encouraging creativity and new ideas– Every business is to a degree in a status of flux and diversification. We continually have to re-evaluate our current position, looking for positive changes and new innovation to help us stay ahead of the competition, excel and continue to improve our impact on the markets we trade in and financial position. Encouraging creative input and new ideas should be a continual process within a business. It could be ideas that can save the company costs, or indeed new product, service, sales or marketing innovation that can help the business grow. Your team is just as important if not more important than you in the business where this is concerned, and making them part of that process is an extremely positive aspect in creating loyalty and passion around the success of the business.
There is indeed a great deal of intricate detail that needs to be explored when creating the right kind of culture within the business, and from admin to sales, every member of your team is a valuable proposition and part of the process. If they are positive about turning up for work on a Monday morning, you have certainly created something of a positive culture, but it shouldn’t just stop there. Continually explore new ways of empowering your staff, and building their loyalty and goals to align with your own. You certainly won’t regret the hard work you put in to create the right culture, and to make an assumption… the difference between the toxic culture as mentioned earlier, and a business that has a very positive culture is very often perfectly exampled by differences in profitability, growth and ambition.
What environment would you choose?