Where did we get this idea that bosses and business owners have to be tough; that we are not going to show our employees that we appreciate their efforts in making our company better? Whenever a company gets into trouble the first thing they do is “cut headcount”, for some reason this makes the owners feel like they are doing something, that they are strong enough to “cut until it hurts.” Of course it doesn’t hurt them a bit; but talk to the people who are suddenly without a job, it hurts them more than just a little bit.
Wall Street loves it when public companies let thousands of people go. The price of their shares goes right through the roof! Think Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap and that most-overrated CEO of all time, Jack Welch.
The thing that is the most unfair about laying people off is that it is the fault of the leaders, not the employees who are losing their jobs, that the company is failing. The employees had nothing to do with it.
Then there are the owners who like to keep their people on edge. Keeping them in constant fear of losing their jobs, to the point that they agree with whatever the boss says, never daring to state their own ideas and opinions. Causing the company to be only as good as one person, the boss, rather than the combined capabilities and brainpower of the entire team.
Well guess what? The times are changing. It is getting more difficult to find and keep good people to the point that it is quickly becoming an employee’s market. We are entering a time when employees are going to have a choice of where they want to work. This means that the old ways are not going to work anymore. The old ways of managing by intimidation, won’t work anymore. Leaders are going to have to find a new way to manage their employees. And all I can say is that it’s about time.
There is a new book out called Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. That is an excellent guide to how to get your employees engaged in the success of your company, simply by showing them appreciation and giving them the latitude to think and bring forth their own ideas for your company. Or, better yet their company, because the first step an owner who wants to become a true leader should do is get rid of the pronouns, “I”, “ me”, and “mine” as in, “this is losing me a ton of money” and “my business is suffering” and replace them with “us”, “we” and “ours” as in, “we all have to pull together and make our company great.” I can ‘t help but cringe every time an owner points out that it is “his” company, and the rest of the people are just hired hands serving at his pleasure. That is no way to build a TEAM!
If you want to get the best out of your employees you have to get them engaged, you have to treat them as engaged partners, all as part of a team that is trying to make the company, their company, the best it can be. They have to feel appreciated and valued. It is a fact that most people leave a company because they feel unappreciated.
And to make it worse most managers have been taught that letting their employees know they are doing a good job can be “dangerous”, it can create a “perilous” situation in the event they have to lay them off! How stupid is that? Really, step back and think about it. Making sure that you don’t let your employees know they are appreciated is a strategy? Just in case you have to let them go. Talk about a strategy based on eminent failure.
The right way to manage today is to let your employees know the following:
- Let them know that you appreciate their contributions.
- Ask them for their opinion.
- Encourage them to share their ideas on how your company could be better.
- Praise them when they do a good job.
- Be encouraging and help them do better when they make a mistake.
- Create an “we are all in this together atmosphere in your company.
- Treat everyone, as equal human beings. Treat them with respect and most of all honesty.
- Be open about the company not only the way it is today but the plans for the future as well.
- Ask them their ideas for the future of the company
- Make sure they know that they are an important part of the company and that you (and the rest of the team) is counting on them to be there for a long time.
- Care about their role in the company, their career path with the company.
- Show true empathy for them and the challenges they are facing.
- Find ways to make their job easier so that they will operate more efficiently
And finally go back to that good old rule of treat them as you yourself want to be treated.
Oh, and one last thing never ever hear yourself saying, “Can’t anybody in this company do anything right? Do I have to do everything myself?” because soon enough you’ll be stuck actually having to try to do everything yourself. It’s only common sense.