Applying some basic family principles to your employees can go a long way to improving loyalty and retention--especially during tough times.
When starting a business, your main objective usually involves turning a profit. As the business grows, your focus often expands to another key issue: your people.
Deciding to expand beyond your core start-up team reflects good times for the business, but don't underestimate the pressure that comes with a larger workforce. Much like a parent who provides for her children, a founder of a growing business often feels the pressure to provide for her employees, overseeing internal disputes, ensuring promised benefits and providing advice (both professionally and personally).
Here are three basic family principles that you can use to lead your team through the inevitable peaks and valleys of business:
1. Open Communication
Employees who believe they are "in the know" are more likely to believe they are a valued member of the team. Therefore, it's important to host a regular cadence of staff meetings or other communication forums to share both the good and the bad news. During tough times, make sure there are plenty of opportunities to answer questions and alleviate concerns. During good times, openly share new client wins, or pop the bubbly when revenue targets are reached. Find reasons to celebrate as a team and ensure all members are included in the festivities.
2. "Family Time"
Every now and then it's smart to take breaks, recharge, and reconnect as a team. Spending some quality R&R can boost moral or even mend some fractured relationships. There are many ways to provide "family time" to your staff, including occasional happy hours, off-site meetings, or other team-building events. For example, we volunteered over the holidays with a local non-profit organization to assist with weatherizing elderly homes. We all felt good about it afterwards, and had fun in the process.
This seems like a no-brainer, but showing that you genuinely care about your people can boost performance when everyone is running at full speed. Empathy can go a long way with employees. Managers who take time to listen to their employees, understand their career objectives, and show that they care enough to help are likely to see better employee engagement and retention rates. And engaged employees can increase the chances of success and innovation for the organization.
We value our people above all else and find a family-based approach to recruiting, grooming, and maintaining a loyal team to be very successful.
KARL STARK AND BILL STEWART are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself and is a two-time Inc. 500 honoree. @karlstark