The idea of a lone hyperactive genius toiling away at an idea all by themselves is the most popular in the industry press. But it's foolishness to think any founder can survive without the employees.
It’s possible Steve Jobs would not be the celebrated genius if he didn't have his partner, Steve Wozniak and the thousand other geniuses paddling hard below the deck. Same goes for Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Sim Shagaya, MZ, etc.
100% of companies without employees fail - a research.
Keeping a productive and happy workforce isn't only a good thing to do, the survival of your company depends on it.
How do you make employees productive, then? Here is a starter guide:
1: Be interested in their lives
Employees aren't just "faceless unimaginative order-takers" as some founders have deluded themselves into believing. They are not merely a means to an end, either. They are humans with dreams, goals, and complex social connections. Invest time into knowing them, their goals and aspirations. The role of your company in their dreams.
This sort of interest in their personal lives will set off a corresponding interest on their part in the company.
Victor Lipman, author of "The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World" puts it succinctly; "Taking an honest interest in someone builds loyalty. Loyal employees are more engaged. Engaged employees are more productive."
When your employees genuinely care about your company, you are sitting on a pile of ethical diamonds.
2: Invest in them
These days, employees care for more than just a handsome paycheck. They care for personal growth.
Design opportunities at your workplace that allow them to grow. Coaching, courses, mentorship, increasing responsibility, anything that proves to them that they are not stuck in a rut.
Usually, the best employees are not comfortable marking time in a company.
According to a Havard Business Review study based on analysis of international databases of over 1,200 young managers, capable ambitious young employees want training, mentoring and coaching. If your company doesn’t provide it, your best employees will go elsewhere for it.
Creating an environment that encourages and facilitates growth is the absolute best way to keep your best talent and keep them productive.
3: Share information early, clearly and often
The most effective way to disempower your employee is to keep important information from them.
Employees should not only have access to information that will help them do their jobs, they need an all-pass access to information about the company.
When people are informed about the whole business, they are better able to understand their place in the business. This understanding will allow dream up creative ways to perform their functions.
Authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, “The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations,” share five questions you can use to gauge if you're keeping people informed.
- How do we make money (profit)?
- Who are our toughest competitors?
- How do customers see our differential advantages in the marketplace?
- What new products or services will we initiate in the next six months?
- What have our annual profits and revenues been over the past five years?
4: Let go of the reins
Has to be the most counter-intuitive tip ever. But it means exactly what it says: don't try to control everything.
Your smartest employees don't need your shadow to constantly darken their desks. Give people room to think creatively and make contributions. When you micromanage, you limit the problem-solving capacity of your workforce to your little experience.
Employees want a sense of autonomy that will allow them to dream up bold and creative solutions. Your shadow over their desk only serves to stifle them - to the point of paralysis.
Your role is that of an architect. Communicate a clear vision of the team's direction, set SMART goals and inspire action.
As the Hubspot team shared in their Culture Code, “people want direction on where they are going, not micro-directions on how to get there.”
5: Recognize and celebrate remarkable performances
At the heart of even the toughest of us, we are kids running up our Dads saying "Dad, look what I did." We crave recognition and celebration.
Celebrate accomplishments of your workforce. Doing so signals that you care about them. Hardwire this into your culture by celebrating high performers for each week or month.
Offer genuine feedback that keeps your best performers so and helps struggling employees develop a fresh sense of mission. This is where your investment in your workforce comes in handy. Assure them they have the opportunity to do their best work every day and provide them with the tools and information they need to do so.
How are you building a more productive workforce at your company? Are there more tips you'd like to share? Let’s talk in the comments.
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