Most leaders are proud of their position and the company itself. After all, they've put in the time and effort and now find themselves in a position of leadership. All those fortunate enough to be in a position of management should ask themselves a simple question that will make them look at their team differently:
"Are my employees proud of their roles, and the company?"
If you have to spend too much time thinking about the answer, then you probably have some work to do. It all boils down to one word: culture.
I have worked with many leaders whose teams were fundamentally dispassionate and it affected both their behavior and their performance. This culture affects everyone, regardless of the role. Creating the right culture is a great way to keep your people and guaranteeing you deliver consistent, strong results.
I have used and seen the following three techniques really produce great results:
1. Recognize achievements regularly.
As a leader, you expect and hope that your employees demonstrate a quality work ethic because it's their job to do so. But a bit of encouragement goes a long way. When you recognize their accomplishments, both privately and publicly, they feel good about what they do and it motivates them to continue striving to be even better.
I once worked with a guy named Andrew, a founder and CEO of a company based in Nashville, who really understood how powerful a strong culture is. Every Monday morning, he would stand before the entire team of 250-plus employees and read a list of shout-outs to those employees who did something new, extra and notable.
Of course, Andrew was given these accolades to read from the managers below him, but the point was he took the time out of his schedule every week to give credit to those individuals. Often these forms of public recognition are even more powerful than money.
2. Enable them to make decisions.
As the leader, one of your core responsibilities is to recruit and develop a strong management team. Yet many leaders refuse to hand over the reins. Why did your hire all of these great folks if you continue to make their decisions for them?
I learned this lesson early on in my career when I led the service establishment business for American Express. On a visit to Dallas, I came across an ad for a partner of American Express. It was by far, the worst ad I had ever seen in my life.
As soon as I got back to my office, I told my VP of marketing, Jim, that I needed to approve every ad to make sure this would never happen again. He smiled, and said, "Okay, if that's what you want."
Several weeks later when I got back from another business trip, I literally could not walk into my office -- it was filled with ads, TV commercials, posters, you name it.
Jim walked by and just smiled. Obviously, there was no way I could approve this volume of ads, nor was there any reason why I should. I asked Jim to create a list of principles and guidelines for our ads that could be administered in the field. I stopped approving ads and got my office back.
If you have situations like the one and find ways to delegate, your staff will appreciate the responsibility given to them, and they may surprise you with what they come up with.
3. Offer skill development opportunities and resources.
Engaged employees want to grow. They constantly look for opportunities to learn new skills, improve their performance and move up in the company. As a leader, it's your responsibility to present opportunities for personal growth and skill development.
The reasons companies often give for not doing this is that it takes too much time away from the job, it costs too much, the payback is unclear and so on. Like most generalities, these comments are not correct.
When I look at employee feedback, I see a direct correlation between their satisfaction at work and low turn-over rates. Start with a few simple efforts to get going, measure the effectiveness and results, check in with your employees to gauge their reaction, and roll these and other programs out as you see the results.
Employees who are proud of their roles and their company do a great job and make a demonstrable difference in your results. Use the three techniques to create a really positive culture in your company. Your employees and your customers will thank you.