Your employees are on the "front lines" of your business, so it makes sense to talk to them to get their take on what can be improved in the business. They're the people that are continually dealing with your customers.
What do your customers tell your employees that you'll never hear unless you take the time to ask the employees?
After years of research, Harvard Business School service firm experts James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser Jr., and Leonard A Schlesinger wrote their book "The Service Profit Chain" (The Service Profit Chain by James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser Jr., and Leonard A Schlesinger - ISBN # 0-684-83256-9.).
The research showed that, among other things, the most successful franchisees preferred to manage using participative rather than autocratic decision making styles. In other words, instead of telling employees "It's my way or the highway", they listen to their employees.
It's sometimes tempting to simply tell employees what to do and then expect it to get done without any input from them. But if you do that, you're squandering a huge resource - the competitive edge your employees can give you. They understand that employees are the "front-line" of their business.
They're the ones with all the contact with your customers. Because of that, they're also the people that can tell you about potential problems before they happen. Even more important, they can tell you about potential opportunities. They serve as an early warning system for your business.
This doesn't mean that you should allow the employees to dictate everything in your business. That's a recipe for disaster. They're not the ones with their life savings at risk. You are. Because of the continuous exposure your employees have to your customers, they can give you some really valuable insight into what's needed to improve the business. If the culture of your business is an open one, employees will tell you what you need to do to improve - from the customer's perspective.
If on the other hand, you have a culture of "It's my way or the highway!", you won't hear about problems until it's too late. If that's not bad enough, you'll find that employee morale is terrible.
"So who cares about morale as long as the business is profitable?" you may ask. You should. When morale suffers, sales and your profitability eventually suffer as well.
1. Be accessible and open minded - Be available to listen to and help solve problems, give ideas, act as a coach or mentor, settle disputes and provide support for staff needing resources. A boss' key role is to get employees the resources they need to do their job.
2. Find out what motivates each employee - For the organization, understanding what motivates employees, tailoring job requirements, and enhancing the work environment will help raise morale and maintain high employee engagement levels.
3. Give recognition when and where it's due - employee recognition is defined as the acknowledgement of a team's or individual's effort, behavior, or business result that supports the organizational goals and objectives, and which has clearly gone beyond standard expectations.
Ways to exhibit recognition are:
Precisely and explicitly identify the behavior, effort or result that is being recognized.
Illustrate the added value to your team or organization by the behavior and how it contributes to the organization's goals and objectives.
Build a strong team. Make sure to listen to your employees. And make sure your staff is happy. You'll be rewarded with higher sales, higher profits, and low staff turnover. That's the one biggest thing you can do to ensure success.
Of course, a big part of this is also hiring the right people. Yes, it can be difficult getting the best people. It takes a while. You will sometimes have to settle for a "warm body" simply because you need someone, anyone. The beauty of Strategy #1 is that you won't have to continually hire and train new people.