Entry By Jason Brick
For most industries, staff is both the highest single expense in the budget and the single most important investment. Whether you're hiring minimum-wage laborers or filling an advanced think tank, how you handle this investment makes a direct and significant difference in your bottom line.
Even if you're happy with how your team works, consider these six ways to get still more out of them – while helping them feel even better about their jobs.
- Stop "Helping" - True, sometimes your people need help that only you can give. Most of the time, though, it's a problem they have full authority and resources to fix on their own. Letting them gives you more time, and helps them feel more ownership for their position and the company.
- Be Generous With Information - Don't keep secrets about your company's performance, goals and direction. The more your employees know, the more they'll trust you and value your efforts in the company. Better still, they might be able to use that information to find unexpected solutions and opportunities.
- Find Money for Training - Whether it's covering the cost of classes at the local community college or bringing in an expert to teach your team new skills, training builds employee self-worth and their value to the company. Even something as simple as training someone to do a job you've done personally can reap high rewards.
- Set Clear and Attainable Goals - Few things are more frustrating -- or more common -- for employees than being "called on the carpet" for not meeting goals they didn't know about. For each team and employee, set clear performance metrics including a definition of how they are measured. Be certain to include a concrete explanation of the rewards for meeting those goals on time.
- Listen, and Act On What You Hear - Almost every company solicits employee opinions, but it's rarer for employees to see those opinions actually affect the company's direction. Take time to really talk with your people about what they like and dislike -- and make what changes you can. If you hear a frequent request for something you can't change, make a point of explaining the reality that makes change impossible.
- The Little Things - Low-cost, simple changes to your workplace environment can go a lot farther than you're probably thinking. Some examples include free lunch once a week, access to laundry and gym discounts, relaxed dress code, summer hours and permitting house-trained dogs on site help create a culture that retains and inspires.