I talk to many business owners who are excited about the prospects for their business in the year ahead, with local and regional economies improving and consumer attitudes holding steady. The number one thing they are all looking for is that little edge that will help them outshine their competition. For them, and every other business that wants to grow revenues and profits in the coming year, my number one recommendation is to look inside your business, and see what you are doing with your biggest asset – employees. Your employees can make or break your business in the coming year, so what are you doing to create a great place for them to work?
In their book First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman used extensive research data to identify eleven simple, common questions to ask your team to determine if you have created a workplace that allows them to excel, which in turn allows you to grow profitably. The first four questions are a great start to creating an environment that will allow your team to work with you to excel.
Question 1 – Do I know what is expected of me?
The number one problem that employees have today is not knowing what is expected of them. They do not understand what results they are expected to achieve, nor do they understand how these results are measured. What are you doing to ensure that your team knows what you expect, and how you measure it, in terms that they understand?
Question 2 – Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do what is expected of me?
Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do what is expected of me? Once your team knows what is expected, do they believe that they have everything they need to actually perform to your expectations? Have your expectations for productivity changed over the years without updates to the tools and equipment you provide your team?
Question 3 – In the last 7 days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
Business owners often tell me how much they appreciate their teams. They also tell other business owners, their friends, and family the same thing. Unfortunately, they rarely tell their teams how much they appreciate them. I coach my clients to always try to catch their employees doing something right. People like to be recognized for their efforts, even when their efforts don’t achieve the exact results we hoped for. Make sure that you and the rest of your leadership team are paying attention to the efforts and results your team is getting for you and your clients, and let individual team members know that their efforts/results were noticed and appreciated.
Question 4 – Does my supervisor, or someone else, seem to care about me as a person?
In addition to the need to be recognized for our efforts and results, we also have a basic need to matter. Do you treat your employees as merely cogs in the wheel, or do you actually recognize that they have basic needs as human beings that you should be meeting? What do you and your leadership team do to let your employees know that you care about them? Do you stop and ask them how their weekend was? Do you know what is going on in their lives? Remember the old saying, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Don’t just tell them how much you care, show them as well by doing the little things that make them feel like they are important to you as more than just a number.
So what would happen if you gave your team these four questions as a little survey, with questions rated from 1-5? What could you learn about your team? What could your team learn about you, just by asking them? What will you then do with the results? If you want a great New Year and beyond, you need to master the process of creating a great place to work, and asking your team what that looks like to them might be a great start.