By Jason Nazar
June 17, 2011
The most important variable to the success of a startup or small business is the quality/performance of your team. It’s often also the biggest challenge. Keeping your team happy and engaged not only makes for the best business, but also ensures you’re all enjoying the journey. Here are my 4 C’s of Employee Engagement.
COMMUNICATE ….. CULTURE ….. COMPENSATE ….. CULTIVATE
Communicate (Expectations) We all want to be great at what we do. To feel this way, we have to know what success means: how do we know when we’ve done a great job? It’s the responsibilities of the employer to make sure your team clearly knows and believes in the goals and results for which they are responsible. We need to take time as managers to precisely communicate our expectations for success and make sure the results we’re striving for are aggressive, attainable and meaningful for the business. On the other hand, we also need to give our team the opportunity to communicate their needs to us. What motivates them, what work environment is engaging, what do they specifically need to be successful. You may not always be in a position to deliver on each of these expectations, but by taking the time to really listen and make your best efforts to meet their needs, you’ll always be ahead of the game.
It’s also vital how you communicate. As a business leader, it’s important that you never lose your cool or publicly demean any of your employees. Even if a team member is justified in being reprimanded, critical feedback should be delivered in private, while praise should be made public as often as possible. It’s easy to forget that we’re all motivated by so much more than security and monetary rewards. We seek both the approval of people we respect as well as their insights on how we can improve and better ourselves. Over communicate with your team, and you’ll reap long lasting rewards that will far outweigh the initial investment of time and patience.
Culture (of Success) Every company has its own de facto culture, the real question is that the culture you want to have? Have you built a culture of success where your team feels engaged and motivated? A culture of success is fostered in a variety of ways. First, we always get the job done. Secondly, we always help each other. Third, we take responsibility for making things better. Fourth, we over communicate internally and externally. Forth, we celebrate successes. This list can go on and on. What’s most important is that you’re company’s culture is a conscious choice and that everyone in the company describes that culture in the same positive light. For more of my thoughts on the subject you can read the post: “10 Lessons Startups Can Learn From Superheros” and check out Tony Hsieh’s book “Delivering Happiness” (CEO of Zappos and guru of building great company cultures).
Compensate (Generously) You should have high expectations for your team, and you should reward your employees when they meet or exceed those high expectations. Your team needs to know that the better they preform the more rewards they can reap. Most of us are motivated by financial success, and by tying financial rewards to results, you’ll help continuously keep your employees focused on achieving results. As owners and operators of a small business, we often struggle with cash flow and want to be judicious about how and where we spend money. But, investing in people, most specifically your core team is just that, an investment. Everyone (including those of us at the top) should earn their way to financial rewards, but if you hire motivated & talented employees, then make sure after you communicate goals and build a culture of success, to compensate your team generously for a job well done.
Cultivate (Growth) Ultimately, the most meaningful rewards are the ones we can’t quantify in a dollar amount. We all strive to be better professionals and want to be engaged, motivated, and happy at work each day. It’s our responsibility to help mentor and grow the individuals that work for us, and help them cultivate their professional skills and persona. One of the most important aspects to being engaged and motivated is having the opportunity to cultivate new skills and grow as a professional. You can help cultivate your employees by both providing them the tools and resources they need to accomplish meaningful results, but also by empowering them to take responsibility and get credit for solving difficult challenges.
Jason Nazar, is the co-founder and CEO of Docstoc. He’s a frequent author and speaker on small businesses topics. You can read more of his posts here on Docstoc and at his blog Jasonnazar.com and can follow him on Twitter via @jasonnazar