Don’t just dangle carrots, grow your own!

A wise man once said to me that staff grow businesses, not company owners. Although I respected the statement, I took the first part of this statement very seriously. To grow a business, you need the right kind of motivation from top down, the leaders will lead and the reaction from the staff to your leadership is the catalyst to growth. However, empowering your staff to have confidence to become leaders is the real answer. Showing faith in their abilities is paramount to your success. Lead with fear and division, and you won’t get leaders.

Having run a successful £10m turnover organisation employing over 80 staff, I really saw this first hand. You always have those that just don’t want to lead, or shy away from uncomfortable tasks, but every business I have worked with has natural born leaders who are passionate about their own futures, and want to become a success within the business. To determine the level of success or benefits to the business from motivated staff is how well you lead, motivate and appreciate the input they have.

Making staff part of the long-term plan

Leadership is about setting goals for staff, but in relation to the goals of the business itself. Staff need to feel part of the bigger picture, so their contribution directly correlates with the goals of the business. Example:

A business owner is looking to expand his operation, opening up a new city based office. He knows that in order to maintain the dynamics of the business, he will look to promote and relocate specific team members to run that satellite office. This could mean a bit of an upheaval for those members, so he needs to incentivise the expansion and make them a part of the plans, what it will mean for the business and their role within the success of the business. He needs them to lead that quest for expansion and to become an integral part of the company’s plans. Their loyalty and efforts need to be rewarded following achievement of those goals.

The above scenario demonstrates exactly why staff need to become leaders within the business. Without their support, the new office could be staffed by new people who don’t have the experience, or won’t maintain the historical ethics and practices of the business without strong supervision and training. The business owner needs that expansion to be seamless – it will save him time, hassle and money in the long run.

A statement I picked up from Simon Sinek’s TED conference really says it all, and it is so true; “people who believe and buy into your goals work with blood, sweat and tears, and the rest work for the pay cheque”. Those who believe in the goals for your business will work hard, and see your goals as their own. So setting the ethics now within your team will provide that seamless transition you need.

So how to recognise strengths and create that philosophy within your business

If we go back to the original statement – it’s the staff who grow businesses, what members of your team are going to make that positive impact in the business, and fulfil your long-term goals? Staff appraisals is certainly a method to adopt within a business, and if you don’t do this already, you should do. It’s a perfect way of finding out more about the personal goals of your team, and look at how to make those individuals more integral to the future success of the business. A perfect way to align their goals with your own!

So let’s put a plan together…

  1. Start learning about your team - Put together a staff appraisal programme if you don’t do this already – Set your questions out you want to ask, and make sure the appraisal structure is more about them than it is the business in the first instance. You really want to know more about your team members.
  1. Set the tone - Your staff appraisal structure should include a second stage, setting tasks or questions to the team member that need answers. Their answers and the detail within, will provide great insight into what they want from their employment. It is much easier for people to tell the truth on paper than it is in front of the boss. So set out your questions carefully, and keep them generic for all team members.
  1. Keep it simple - Put together a simple one-page plan that demonstrates the goals of the business to team members. This will help them to understand how they can become an integral part of the businesses success in the future – what part they can play in this success.
  1. Study the response – you will start to recognise those who have the passion, those who just play lip service, and those that really don’t see your business as part of their long-term plans, the ones who work for the pay cheque. Remember stages 1-3, you have given them ample amount of information and opportunity to get excited.
  1. Set timelines – the structure of your appraisals through to assessments and feedback needs to be timed, so everyone is aware of what is required – diarise response times. Those who take the time to provide a considered response should be recognised for their efforts, and will most likely be your leaders in the future.
  1. Don’t make promises you cannot keep – The appraisal is about assessing the individual, not about making company commitments to that team member, so avoid commitments until you are ready to make them. Remember, everything in business is in your control apart from market forces, which can influence your future success. Promising huge pay rises by dangling carrots is not the way to go.
  1. Staged assessment – One of the big mistakes for business owners is to set staff targets or goals, put an end date in place, but not continue to review the position. Is the business on track to achieve the end goal, if not, why not? Growth is a continual process of reassessment, and your plans will evolve which have to include the staff.
  1. Share achievements – It is very common to see companies growing, new team members coming on board, but the back bone of the operation has no real clear understanding of the key performance indicators. For example, you may set goals to increase the amount of customers you have, and reach that milestone. Make sure your team is fully aware that the milestone has been achieved – celebrate with them. They will feel part of it, and enjoy the big pat on the back this provides.
  1. Recognise the leaders – The staff appraisal structure will demonstrate those who will give blood, sweat and tears to a common cause. Identifying these individuals and giving them the incentives will be a huge part of your future success. Make those incentives realistic and affordable to the business. Big wage increases are of course an incentive, but there are many other incentives you can bring to the fold.
  1. Keep it equal and fair – Too often you find within a business that the achievers can become dissolutioned because they are doing all the hard work, and the pay cheque seekers are just going through the motions. This is sometimes the hardest part of managing staff, so you need to create a structure that will differentiate leaders, but evaluate as a team, making sure the team know the leaders and appreciates them.
  1. Lead by example – No fear is probably an apt phrase, but when you show fear, a close knit team will recognise this and become unsettled. Whatever convictions and plans you have for the business, remain positive, passionate and forthright in front of your team. You may even drag some of the ‘working for the pay cheque’ members to start working with blood, sweat and tears as well.

Becoming a great boss, or leader isn’t just about being fair and nice to your staff members, it is about knowing how to get the best out of them. Also to create the best opportunities for their own futures. If you can capture the strengths of your staff members, and create a positive mechanism within the business that will utilise those strengths you are certainly on the way to the success your desire for your business.

Motivated staff members and teams can have a huge impact on a business. I have seen on many occasions the positive change with improving staff morale and attitudes, and this is always represented with a much improved bottom line.

So start communicating with your biggest asset, you will be amazed at the results!

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