Grow Employees to Grow Your Business

How would you like to work for you? Take a walk in your employees shoes, and you’ll understand the importance of employee engagement.

“I’m glad to get the heck out of there!”

That’s the way most of your employees feel when they leave work. Maybe not in your case. Maybe it’s 100% for your business. Or maybe it’s 0%. But Gallup survey reports show that 70% of employees do not feel engaged at work. That may be low.

Not engaged is synonymous with there for the check. And glad to get the heck out of there.

One or two of those employees may be hopeless. They will never care about more than a paycheck. But all the others could become very interested in contributing creativity, ideas and forward thinking to your business. And energy. They want to enjoy their jobs and be proud of their company.

Don’t believe that? It’s highly unlikely you’ve hired totally from the left of the bell curve. It’s much more likely that the company work environment doesn’t indicate that you care about your employees, want them all to get home safely every single day, and value their contributions and thinking.

Pretend for a moment that you are running that packaging equipment every day for eight hours and that the guy currently running it is the company owner.

He drives a nice car, seems to travel a lot. Walks through once in a while asking you to do him a favor by stopping the job you’re working on to slip in a different one. Nice enough, but lives in a different world than you do.

You work to get the equipment to run correctly and make the packages seal well. You have to be careful to not get burned as you move from one package to the next. You try to work on the right product, but you’re never sure what you should be working on next—until you get reprimanded for not completing the one shipping is waiting for. How were you supposed to know?

“To grow your business, grow your employees. Training is nice, but respect is required.”

Once a month, the owner pulls employees into a conference room for a “communication meeting.” You sit there slouching because your back is tired. The owner says business is up, or down, and that competition is stronger than ever. He says we all have to pitch in more, make fewer mistakes, and reminds us that showing up every day is important. He then thanks everyone and leaves. You walk back to your machine for more of the same, unaffected by the communication.

To grow your business, grow your employees. Training is nice, but respect is required. Listen to them. They do the work. Earn their trust by doing what you promise, by listening and following up on their ideas. Then involve them in defining how their work is done. Teach them to understand finances at a basic level if you want cost effective ideas.

In the Wizard of Oz, the characters had brains, hearts, and courage. So do your employees. Set them free from the impression that they do not.

Only then can you grow your business.

As published in IndustryWeek