August 20, 2013

What Do Your Employees Do Best?

By Paul Bieber

Manager A:  “My employees goof off better than any other company I’ve seen, that’s why I don’t give paid vacations.”

Manager B:  “My employees cause me more headaches than anyone else’s;  I wish my business was small enough not to need them!”

Manager C:  “My employees steal from me every chance they get … that’s why I never give raises.”

And lastly, Manager Z:  “I wouldn’t be in business without my employees.  They come to work wanting to be there, take good care of our customers and back up each other.  I am glad to pay them as much as I can because they make me money.”

Businesses and management styles run the gamut from A to Z.  Where are you in this alphabet?  We all say we would like to be a Z, but our employees force us to become an A or B.  And to me, it is the other way around.  It is ownership and management that set the tone that encourages or allows employees to either climb to the top or fall to the bottom of the ladder.  We set the rules and regulations, we encourage or discourage people, we review employee efforts and give feedback and we are responsible for the good and bad points of our businesses.

Fortune Magazine does an annual feature on the best companies to work for in America.  The single most common theme is that the best companies treat their employees as valuable team members and not just problem-makers.  A good manager will recognize that employees themselves are the best problem solvers in the company.  The manager’s job is to pick up the formation of a problem and ask the employees involved how to improve the situation.  Nine times out of ten you will get a better answer than if you try to solve it yourself.  You’ll feel better and here is the key:  the employees will feel better, which leads to happier employees, happier customers and stronger bottom line.

Now isn’t this easy?

Employees want decent wages and benefits.  But these two items are not the top of an employee wish list in the top companies.  The top items are: opportunity to grow and learn, which will allow an employee to earn more rather than just getting a cost-of-living raise and be treated with respect from leadership.  This doesn’t mean that the inmates get to run the asylum.  It is more like, what goes around comes around.  If you treat your employees well, they will do the same to you and your company. 

You have 50 employees.  On average, by treating your employees well, 47 will return that to you.  You won’t please all the people, no matter what.  But the fact that you have 47 pulling the wagon in the same direction you want it to go, will far outweigh the problems that the three malcontents can cause you.

So, the moral of the story is give your employees the assignments that best fit their skills.  Give timely and well-thought out employee reviews, detailing how each person can grow within your company, and watch your bottom line improve.