September 7, 2014

What Is Job 1 In Every Company, Everywhere, Everytime

By Paul Bieber

Wow, that is a big headline with no wiggle room: the single most important thing that every company must do.  The penultimate, the top-of-the-mountain, the center-of-the-bullseye, the supreme, the bet-the-store, the most important job that you as an owner or manager must do, every day, without exception, without excuses, without whimpering about it, no complaints, and with a smile on your face job.  Drum roll please.

Motivate your employees.

Your employees are the folks that make you money by fulfilling your plans for the business.  Whatever your size, it is your employees who create the work output correctly and on time for your customers.  They are the ones creating the value that your customers are paying for.

So, how do you do this.  Isn’t it natural for every manager to motivate his employees?  No, I have seen many managers who have a wonderful, human touch with their people, and many who actually de-motivate their people as soon as they open their mouths.  Motivation to work is best measured in employee turnover.  If employees are happy, they continue working for you.  It is that simple.  Look at your turnover record of employees.  Fast food restaurants turn over 50-70% a year, yet Google only turns 3%.  Keeping employees longer reduces costs in so many ways and helps your customer relationships in even more ways.  What is right for a glass company?  For a glass shop, more than 15% turnover should get your attention.  For a fabricator, over 20% is worrisome.  If you are under these levels, say, “Thanks, Paul”, and go read something else.  If you are higher, read on.

Make sure your people understand your business model and goals.  If they are not pulling in the same direction as you, you’ll go off-course.  Train your people.  Don’t expect them to know your products or goals as well as you do.  You live, eat and breath your company.  Your people have jobs, maybe great jobs, but not at your depth or knowledge.  Constantly teach new things, new ideas and new techniques for serving your customers.  Keep your employees involved in your decisions.  Ask for their input and value it.  When you use the input of one of your people, give full credit to the idea-creator.  Nothing motivates an employee better than recognition.  Yes, money is important, but positive reinforcement and recongnition will create longer-lasting employees than  money alone.

Know your employees’ names and the names of their family.  Ask how they are doing and if an employee asks you a question as you walk by, answer it, even if you have to wait a day and do some research on the question.  This will cause your employees to stay inquisitive, helping your company and brand grow. 

Have a company picnic once a year where you get to meet the families of your team.  This doesn’t have to be an expensive deal, in fact the most fun is just hot dogs and hamburgs and some pot-luck salads.  Keep in contact with families by email.  Send company P.R releases to your employees home email addresses.  If you have something to be proud of, send it us at USGlass and to each of your people.  They’ll be so proud that they will tell your customers.

Share your successes and some of your failures.  Your people need to know what does work and what doesn’t.  On the successes, praise to the roof.  On the failures, keep it simple and point out where you will improve the next time around.  Never call out an employee in front of anyone else.  Praise in public, complain in private.

Give good benefits; they don’t have to be the best on the block.  The most important benefit is medical insurance, and the next most important??? A matching 401K is what most employees want. If you can’t give great benefits, don’t show up in a new car each year yourself.   That’s a de-motivator.  Don’t store your boat in the back of the shop either.

Give real responsibility to your team.  Let them make decisions they are trained for and then back them up.  Some will be wrong, but that should be just a few if you have the right people trained the right way.  Teach from these mistakes.  Remember that you made mistakes in your career too.  (What? You have never made a mistake…then what are you doing in the glass business…you should be a rocket scientist!)

Enough.  Keep the turnover low and you will have motivated and eager employees.  Bank on it.