Get the Most From Your Employees

by Robert Moskowitz on July 11, 2013
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Employees are probably one of your largest expenses as a small-business owner. So it’s important to get the maximum results from each and every one of them. Here are some simple ideas to help you do just that.

Foster a Productive Culture

Every small-business owner wants top productivity from everyone on staff, but only a few leaders know how to actually obtain it. For starters, build a “corporate” culture that espouses hard work, dedication to the job, and a sharp focus on results.

From the company’s mission statement to your own daily behavior, your leadership must unswervingly emphasize what you want your business to deliver and how you want your employees to deliver it.

Reward Hard Work, Results, and Innovation

To avoid undermining your message, show your appreciation — any and every way you can — to employees who start performing up to your standards.

For example, use the first or last few minutes of meetings to mention by name the employees who have recently done something special. Keep a mental or written list of those who deserve rewards, and give them a personal pat on the back or a shout-out when you see them during the workday.

To start your employees figuring out new and better ways to accomplish your company’s mission, you must be willing to give them enough flexibility to try innovative approaches and prudently experiment with different procedures.

Train, Train, Train

Most industries today are undergoing steady, important changes. And even those that aren’t can still benefit when employees are motivated, trained and retrained, and otherwise encouraged to stay at the top of their game.

Training actually offers a double benefit: It not only increases your employees’ knowledge and skills, but also rewards team members who are most interested in getting ahead.

Whether you bring trainers to your place of business or send employees to external sessions, you’re likely to see a huge return on any money you spend on employee development.

Hire From Within

Although much can be said for casting a wide net when searching for the talent you need to grow your business, even more can be said for the practice of cultivating talent within your company.

One advantage of hiring from within is that it provides hope and motivation for employees who seek to improve their workplace situations. Another is that employees who have solid experience at the company know the key players and the nuances of your business in much greater depth than even the hottest hot-shot who comes in cold from the outside.

Assign Work Based on Skills and Preferences

Obviously, some people in your company must sometimes do some tasks they don’t like. But to the extent you can mesh assignments and responsibilities with employees’ personal preferences and strengths, you’ll get much better results.

One reason for this is that someone who’s highly skilled at a task is naturally far more efficient at completing it than someone who isn’t. Another is that employees who are assigned work they enjoy and can do well will feel excited about larger portions of their daily workloads — and perform even better. In addition, people are more willing to do the tasks they dislike when they believe that a large portion of their other work is likely to be satisfying.

Ask for Their Input

Small-business owners are regularly advised to do more listening, and nowhere is this more important than inside the company itself.

You can benefit from a great deal of what your employees have to say, including:

  • what else they know, aside from the skills and experience for which you hired them;
  • ideas for doing things faster, cheaper, and better within your company;
  • suggestions for new markets, new products/services, and new procedures that are appropriate for your company; and
  • information they glean from prospects, customers, suppliers, and other outside vendors.

By listening carefully and implementing the best of your staff’s ideas and suggestions, you can get the maximum results from your employees.

Robert Moskowitz is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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