You want employees who are loyal and work hard. You want them to trust you and follow your vision. And most of all, you want employees who will help your business grow. How do you do this?
It's really easy. I'll give you five examples--drawn from real life--of how to turn your angry, sullen workers into ones who love you.
Stop prying. Your employee wants to take vacation. Your response should be either, "Have fun! We'll see you on Tuesday when you get back" or "I'm sorry, but we're totally swamped, so I'll have to say no. But November is a much slower time." Then if your employee has something critical, like a family wedding, she'll speak up and explain and if it won't cause your business to go crashing into a deep hole, the answer should be yes. Don't give your employees the third degree. Don't demand that they explain what they are going to be doing on their time off. If you don't want to give time off, don't. There's no law requiring vacation time, so don't offer any. Of course, that might put a damper on your recruiting, so maybe just let your employees take vacation when it's at all feasible.
Figure out what matters and give up everything else. But everything has to be perfect! I can hear your wail clear over here. Really? Everything? No, it doesn't. And what is perfect anyway? The numbers on that report better be perfect. That is important. The font? Not important. The thickness of the lines on Excel? Not important. The deadline met? Important. When you find yourself trying to change something that doesn't affect your bottom line, take a deep breath and go do something important.
Feedback, feedback, feedback. Note that I didn't say good feedback only. Yes, positive feedback is awesome, and you should probably do more of it. But people want honest, substantive feedback. If you never say anything negative, your employees think they are doing just fine, and then feel shocked and hurt when they get a formal performance review and find out that they are performing below average. They feel betrayed, and they blame you. Their feelings are "my boss is a jerk," not "gee, I should change how I do that." But if you give meaningful negative and positive feedback, they'll know they can trust you.
Don't have best friends at the office. Okay, this may seem a little counterproductive, since you're trying to evoke love. But love is different from like, and we're talking about platonic love anyway. When you're the boss (or an HR person), you need to remain fair and impartial. You can't do that if you're always going to lunch with Jane and concerts with John. It doesn't matter if John is the only person you know who shares your taste in yodeling--you need to branch out. And don't try to force your employees to participate in things you like, in the name of team building. Take your mother to the yodeling concert if you can't find someone else to go with you. She thinks you don't call enough as is.
Feed your employees. This, I concede, is straight out sucking up to your employees. But let's face it, employees love food. (I do caution, the IRS also loves taxing food.) A boss who brings in muffins or fancy coffee or pizza from time to time wins hearts. True, if you provide lunch every day, they start expecting it as part of their regular compensation. But treats from time to time bring warm and fuzzy feelings.