I read an article today and I wanted to get feedback from other readers about what was in this article. The article was from Inc Magazine and was about getting employees excited about your business vision. While I thought the article had some good ideas all of these ideas seemed to be geared towards large organizations and analysis from elite organizations. This can sometimes be good but often I ask myself why don’t they write these articles to that small business owners like myself can easily interpret and implement the ideas?
About the Owner: The article starts with the idea that ‘to a business owner their venture is their baby – If only they could get their staff to think the same way’. Well that’s all fine and dandy to talk about. Here is the bottom line – It’s never going to happen. People will never feel they have the same investment in a business because to put it very simply – they don’t. If you as a business owner are striving to get your staff to work as hard as you are then you are only disappointing yourself. Don’t fall victim to the any motivational hoopla that tells you different. A good measuring stick is the 80% rule – If your staff is working 80% as hard as you (the business owner) then you have a great staff!
Clear Communication: In the small business world you have to approach communication differently then in a large corporation. If you have lets say 10 employees do you think it is important for everyone to understand your latest sales proposal to a new client? While this might depend on the type of business we are talking about but in most cases the answer is no. The reason for that is that a small company needs to be more reactive then a large business. The owner of a small business will on most cases make all the major decisions with out consultation. This is OK! As your company grows and your staff expands you will see opportunity to involve more people.
Keeping an Open Ear: I do like this par of the original article. I’ve met a lot of business owners who have their office on a separate floor from their team. This kind of hands off approach is a recipe for disaster. I personally have an office in my call center so that if my door is open I can hear each and every phone call. I’ve also in the past sat down at a desk in my warehouse every day for a month so I could get a feel for the happenings in my bookstore. You have to be present to manage.
Measuring Engagement: Here is where they got really technical and referenced a study done by MIT. Wouldn’t we all love to have our businesses evaluated by an MIT Grad? Well actually I wouldn’t. While having all the respect in the world for these amazing grads I still think a business owner of a small business with the proper tools will understand their business better. To measure engagement with your staff you need to watch, listen, and learn. My favorite method for this as a business consultant is to let the staff member teach the owner how to do a task. During this instruction period the owner is not allowed to correct any mistakes that they may perceive. What does this do? It gives the owner the perspective of the staff and it gives the staff a level of interaction that allows them to develop confidence in their skills. When this type of training is implemented in a small business comprehensive results show improvement in all business elements. Most importantly profitability.
Are all Businesses Created Equal? They should simply delete this section of the article. I work closely with numerous non-profits and I don’t think many non-profit executives at a chapter level would agree with the statements made in Inc’s Article. Staff members at all levels are more concerned about time off, pay, and how not to do work (in 80% of cases). This is not a non-profit nor it is it a small business problem – it is a problem for everyone.
Maintaining Engagement as your Business Grows: As your company grows some staff members will gain seniority and a level of experience that is vital to the continued success of your company. If you choose to continue growing your relationship with these members you need to be sure to support this growth with renewed goals and challenges. If you let them slide into laziness it will only be your fault as the business owner.
Is Employee Engagement Exploitative? This is true. In the rare case that you find a staff member who is in the 20% meaning that are truly motivated, they want to do more, and they have personal goals in mind then you need to cradle their ambitions and reward them for their success. In todays world where I’ve had people quit because they could collect more money from unemployment you have to face staff members with a sense of entitlement. This entitlement sentiment is anti-productive and can be contagious if found in your company. As a small business owner you need to know when you owe a staff member (for accomplishment) versus when a staff member thinks you owner them (because of an entitlement sentiment).
I intended for this post to be somewhat controversial. So I’d love to hear what you have to say. The people who sometimes live in the large corporate world want to dictate to small business owners how they should run their business often don’t understand the small business world we work in. As the owner of a Multi-Million Dollar Company that I started with my own hands I feel my review of this article is fair and more relevant to the world of a small business consultant.
To view the original article from Inc. Magazine please visit: http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/08/how-to-get-employees-excited-about-your-business-vision.html