After 42 years in business, holding positions that included chief executive of large and small businesses alike, I now spend my time coaching small business owners on what they can do to become more profitable. Many times, the place I begin is with management’s consideration of employees. Small changes can make big differences that encourage repeat business and big returns. Here are a few simple tips:
1. Get employee buy-in. Write out your top goals and share them with your people. In my company, the sales we need each month to achieve the annual sales goal just appeared on the refrigerator in the break room one day. Employees update it monthly.
2. Celebrate success with your people. It took weeks to get all the confetti off the carpet after we made our big sales goal for the first time.
3. Be flexible in your expectations. When I was CEO of a large company, we allowed employees to take off two hours at a time in addition to vacation and sick days. No reason for the time off was necessary. Notice the day before was requested, but exceptions were certainly made. Was it convenient for management? No. What did it really cost us? Not much compared with the pressures it took off working parents. There are times when there are more important things than to be at work.
4. Make sure people have the knowledge and tools to do their job, and then manage results, not activity. I have learned that my company is more successful when I trust people to excite our customers, not focus on pleasing me.
Putting employees first should not be confused with being soft on employee performance. The difference comes in how expectations are managed. Appreciated, involved employees create repeat customers and a profitable business.
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