Making sure your staff feels appreciated is one of the most important ways to retain and inspire them, but equally important is making sure they are regularly challenged and empowered. Every employee wants to know that they are contributing something important to their company, that they are a genuine part of its success and that there is always somewhere for them to go and grow. Ambitious employees want opportunities to build a career, not just a salary. Here are just a few points to ponder.
Listening: Let’s say, for example, that one of your best people wants to do something else within the company, but because they are so good in their position, you don’t want to change things. I have watched excellent people ask for a change only to be told that they were too good in their current positions. It seems like a compliment right? But, from an insider’s perspective, their relationship with the company changes right at that moment. That employees shifts their energies into a world where they feel helpless, stuck and, most certainly, not supported. After all of their hard work, the least they expect from you is to take them seriously and listen to their goals. As their employer or manager you should promote your employees’ best interests. Think BIG!! Keep your best employees challenged and create opportunities for growth. You’ll make better employees and higher profits. People’s needs change and what might have suited them for years will need to be adjusted over time. Just be sure to listen.
Supporting: You may be surprised to know that most of the surveys I’ve checked out show that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of their manager. Employees put an enormous amount of faith in their supervisors. They want to believe that you have their best interests at heart, that you will recognize their abilities and that their careers will move forward. That is a lot of responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Employees are happiest when they have a good relationship with their manager. That doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend, only that you are aware, involved and in their corner. Always stay in touch with what they are thinking. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, your staff needs to feel both appreciated and recognized. Pay attention to their accomplishments and set up reward systems. Always make note of contributions in their employee files, mention it publically in a staff meetings, and regularly assure them that their important work is leading somewhere. Mostly importantly, have the integrity to back up your word.
Involving: People want to feel like they are a part of something that goes beyond their job and that all positions are essential to the success of the company. As managers, you need to have regular meetings to let your staff know when something new is happening, what the company goals are and where the company is sitting in general. When your staff is informed you cut out gossip and worry and replace it with security and creation. Instead of making up stories about what might be happening and how it will affect them, they start thinking about how they can contribute to help the company grow. I have worked for companies where you literally felt no difference between the general manager and the janitor. Everyone knew they were important. This kind of environment creates a company filled with powerful people who will stand beside you through the ups and downs. Involving equals trust and respect. It’s simple.
Empowering: A sure fire way to watch anything die is to hold on to it too tightly. If employees have to constantly ask permission to do things, they begin to feel like a child. When nothing can be done without your approval you are not nurturing creativity or problem solving in your employees; and worse than that, you will never feel like you can leave the job behind. It is with you every day and every minute of your life because you have created a world that will fall apart without you. If you empower your employees, you empower yourself. You can spend your off hours focussing on your family and what’s personally important to you, and your staff can have the space to expand. The end result of trust is growth for the employee, for yourself and for the company. My first manager was a master of empowerment and it shaped the kind of employee I was for the rest of my life. Imagine having the power to change lives and shape someone’s future. Every one of you has it and you are doing it every day when you walk into the store. Never forget that.
Everyone who works for you is big and powerful – and so are you. By listening, supporting, involving and empowering your staff, you are creating a world of endless possibilities and growth. It is important to keep in mind that even though you are the boss, there is still so much you can learn. Keep your eyes and ears open and focus on your people. When you do that, it comes back ten-fold and you won’t need to worry nearly as much about anything!
Christie Smith is the Events, Advertising & Sponsorship Coordinator for Long & McQuade of Vancouver BC Canada. She is currently serving as Vice P/Secretary for RPMDA