Running a successful business is easy. It relies on only two things: a leader who inspires people to achieve greater heights, and a dependable workforce who share the same aspiration and enthusiasm as their leader. Sounds simple, right?
As you’ve probably guessed by now. It’s not that simple. The ability to inspire people and bring out the best in them is one of the greatest challenges. Let’s begin by having a clearer understanding of what makes a good leader.
Starting off the right foot: hiring the right people
Rome wasn’t built in a day, let alone by one person. In business, you need a strong, dependable workforce who can carry out your company goals. It all starts by getting the right people on the bus, so to speak – or as others put it, “getting the right people on the bus, getting the wrong people off the bus, and giving the right seats to the right people on the bus.”
These tasks usually fall under the human resource department. But for business start-ups, owners might have to do the work by themselves. Qualifications for hiring new employees can be roughly divided into two aspects: personal and professional attributes.
Employees must have the right balance of good personality traits and technical competence to fulfill their assigned roles, and have the potential to grow professionally. This saves your company a lot of time and money dealing with disruptive behaviour, picking up the slack of unproductive workers, and re-training your employees.
Virgin Group is renowned for spending a lot of time and effort finding the right people. For instance, Virgin America hires 1 out of 100 people who apply to the company. It’s not surprising why their workforce is among the best in terms of personal and professional attributes, one of the secrets to Sir Richard Branson’s multi-billion business.
On the flip side, getting the wrong people can set you up for a gruelling task of micromanaging every single work of your employees, while time and again trying to hold your teams together. Best case scenario, this leads to a bad work environment, and worst case scenario it can cause a business to go bankrupt.
Keeping your best employees aboard
The need to inspire and motivate your employees on a regular basis comes down to two things. First of all, hiring takes time and money – a lot of money. Hence, you need to make each hire count. Every time you fire a person you’ve basically thrown all your efforts and resources hiring that person out of the window. In case of a bad hire, you’ll just have to take this lesser evil.
Another reason for keeping your best employees aboard is they provide great value to your company. Your seasoned employees are your best assets because they help generate more income for your company. You want to make sure they stay with you the whole time.
Losing one of your seniors or your best man for the job would be a double whammy for the company. Aside from the momentary loss, and co-workers doubling their efforts to pick up the slack, you’ll have to spend time and resources to find another one – possibly not as good as your first hire.
Your worst nightmare as a business owner is when you lose your most efficient and highly productive employees, only to find them on the other side working for your competitors, possibly taking with them some of the skills they learned from your company, as well as valuable information such as customer data.
Bottom line – take time to inspire and motivate your employees. They are your most prized assets because they are the ones who set your business in motion with your guidance and direction.
Ways to keep your employees’ spirits high
- Set clear goals and let them know how they fit into your company. This gives your employees a sense of purpose and direction. They want to know what impact they will give to the company for fulfilling their assigned roles, and what the consequences are for not doing what they ought to do. Be realistic with your expectations, making sure they are neither too high that it puts a lot of strain or too low that they begin to slack off.
- Let your employees feel they belong to the company. This goes beyond treating your employees like cogs in the wheel, and instead treating them more like family. Zappos.com has been featured in blog posts, articles, and short documentaries for their exemplary way of treating every member of the company. The joy and excitement felt by every member goes out to each customer when taking phone calls, customer concerns, and placing their orders.
- Remember the triple A’s – Appreciation, Approval, and Attention. Your employees need an occasional tap on their backs for a job well-done. Coming from a person who runs the entire business, this would certainly mean a lot to them. Even just a simple “Thank you!,” or “Good job!” can take away a lot of stress from work, re-assures them how important they are to the company, and that they’re moving on the right track. As a business owner, you have to be genuinely appreciative of all the good things they have done for your company.
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