Growing Our People

By Corrine Hood
Often times people laugh when the statement “employees are our biggest asset” is made. Perhaps a more accurate statement is “employees are our single strongest competitive advantage.” Certainly each of us has determined from time to time, in various industries by either a phone call or a visit, the reason we believe an organization does not do better is because of the people working in it. The ideas contained in this article are not earth shattering or ones you have not heard before. However, review is always a helpful reminder and sometimes gives validity to the things we are already doing. Coaching is a widely accepted method of developing employees and assisting them to be the best they can be. Instead of focusing on employees working harder, being more productive, socializing less or making fewer mistakes, we suggest the ideas in the following paragraphs we can do as business owners and managers in addition to regular coaching sessions. First, allow employees to set their own goals. Research suggests that given the opportunity, people will exceed what their managers set for them and accomplish the goals more willingly. Second, develop a one-page business plan so our employees really know what business we are in. The plan should consist of a brief description of the company as we may have in a marketing brochure, what our business does, who our customers are, the kinds of problems we solve, the types of needs and wants and desires our organization fulfills, and the company goals and strategies used to attain those goals. The last part of the plan is sharing sales numbers with employees. Although profit may be confidential, everyone likes to keep score. Employees can know the score if we share sales numbers. This one page plan communicates information, direction and goals while setting the tone that this is truly a team effort. Third, strive for employee involvement. Employees more often than not know the causes and the solutions for some of our internal problems if given the opportunity for input. When we go outside our own business for answers, we stunt employee opportunity for mind stimulation and exciting work challenges. While it’s the employee’s responsibility to secure, protect and develop in their own position, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide the opportunity in which the employee can do it. Fourth is to provide recognition and communication. It’s well known employees feel they receive little of both. No matter how difficult or how uncomfortable it may be for some owners or managers to do, we need to nurture employee development so they are aware that we care about them and their livelihood. Relationships and trust within our businesses starts and ends with communication and recognition. Avoid having employees with a poor attitude who are more dangerous to our business than our competitors are. Fifth is to celebrate successes and accomplishments as often as possible. Recognize people in front of their contemporaries for their good work. Praise in public, criticize in private. Lighten up and make coming to work a desirable event. Sixth is develop an annual company calendar with important dates on it such as trade shows, holidays, client visits or trips planned. This helps us include employees in planning and scheduling through communication. The ball is in our court as owners and managers to develop our employees and make them the best. By investing in employees, we see increased productivity, improved communication, less turn over and we have a better work force helping to achieve company goals.


Labtalk June 2020