For the past two years, we’ve all watched the evolutionary workplace processes prompted by the Great Resignation. Take flexible work arrangements, for example. They’re now the norm in many industries that used to claim jobs couldn’t be done well remotely. However, one outcome of the mass employee exodus still needs to be explored and examined: how to help employees feel like their work matters.
Do employees actually care if they’re progressing in some way? According to research, yes. Of those who quit their job in 2021, Pew Research Center found that 63% cited no path to advancement as the reason. In other words, they had no way to realize their goals at their companies—so they left in the hopes of finding new employers that wouldn’t thwart their growth.
If you’re a leader, you must pay attention to figures like those. Even if your team members seem satisfied and aren’t quietly quitting, they might still feel like they’re spinning their wheels. In that case, they might not be your team members for much longer.
Rather than risk preventable attrition, consider applying the following management strategies. Each one is designed to turn your workplace into a space where employees can name, claim, and exceed their personal goals.
1. Acknowledge and accept that everyone has different goals: Tonya Towles, founder and CEO of The PCS Pro Team
You already know your personal goals as an entrepreneur, CEO, or executive. Just don’t assume that all your employees share your goals. That’s a huge mistake, but it’s one that many high performers make. What makes it so potentially disastrous? You’ll be dangling the wrong carrot and won’t realize your workers are uninspired until it’s too late.
Tonya Towles, founder and CEO of The PCS Pro Team, admits that realizing her team members didn’t share her big goals was an eye-opener. However, she’s used this realization to improve how she leads others. “My mom had an expression,” she explains. “'If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ Not everyone’s contentment or success is the same. Remove the bias of what you think is a good goal. Who wouldn’t want to make a million dollars? It surprised me when someone told me they didn’t.”
The best way to discover your employees’ goals is to ask. Of course, as the boss, you might not have time to do this with each person. Ask supervisors to talk with their direct reports about personal goals. The more you know, the more you can help everyone around you grow.
2. Allow team members to make mistakes: Melanie Clark, CMO at Abstrakt Marketing Group
Have you made many missteps in your career? Of course. We all have. That’s how we make discoveries. Those of us who are lucky end up not repeating the same errors twice. And those of us who are really lucky end up working at companies where mistakes aren’t punished.
How can you ensure your team members know it’s OK to stumble? Melanie Clark, CMO at Abstrakt Marketing Group, has an answer: Provide support so employees can feel comfortable stretching themselves. “From stressing the importance of risk-taking to encouraging team members to speak up and take ownership, we’ve been able to develop a workplace culture that rewards ambition and creativity,” says Clark. “When I first took on my position, I knew that it was up to me to set the tone. We had to be willing to take risks and serve as role models for our teams. That meant encouraging them to take ownership of projects. It also meant providing support when things didn’t go as planned.”
The point is that you can’t tell your employees, “We support you going for your goals,” if you don’t let anyone fail. Wins are great, but failures can become the stepping stones to greatness. Everyone’s heard that Thomas Edison’s light bulb invention journey was a slow, arduous process of experimentation. The reason was simple: Edison knew that to move closer to his goal, he had to break a few eggs (or bulbs!).
3. Check in with employees to revisit their goals: Kelly Knight, integrator and president at EOS Worldwide
Are you still focused on accomplishing the same goals you had 10 years ago? Five years ago? Last year? Probably not. So, try not to fall into the trap of thinking that your employees won’t change their goals either. They will—and won’t necessarily tell you if you don’t ask.
This is why Kelly Knight, integrator and president at EOS Worldwide, ensures that all managers have quarterly check-ins with their team members. The meetings allow both parties to ensure they’re on the same page. “Listening to your team members during this conversation is imperative,” Knight notes. “They want to feel heard and valued. Allow the space for team members to be honest about their goals and professional dreams. This builds trust. Once trust is built, there can be increased openness to explore how that individual is working toward their goals.”
It’s OK if you find that employees are reluctant to speak openly about what they want to achieve at their first check-ins. Give them time. When they see that it’s safe to say, “I want to become a manager,” or, “I’d like to learn the skills to transfer to another department,” they’ll begin to open up. And you can help them blossom from there.
4. Show employees how their innovation, creativity, and hard work can pay off: Suzanne Bates, managing director at BTS Boston
Do you give regular raises? Promotions? If so, do they happen occasionally, or is there a structured path employees can take to move up the ladder? Suzanne Bates, managing director at BTS Boston, believes that one of the critical ingredients to motivating workers to set and achieve goals is showing them how they will be rewarded once they hit various milestones.
Bates says that her company’s “clear, globally aligned performance and promotion criteria that are made transparent to everyone” has been a massive reason that team members have been able to succeed personally. “Within the criteria are many development goals that provide people with the chance to demonstrate capability through critical experience and exposure,” Bates explains.
Now is an excellent time to map out this type of “success ladder” at your company. When employees can see where they are, they can see what they must do to make progress. Because you’ll be designing the framework of this ladder, you can be sure that it aligns with your organization’s overarching goals. Everything connects, and everyone wins.
Each of your employees has multiple personal and professional goals. As an employer, you’re in a position to shepherd and guide them toward their North Stars. And your reward will be more satisfied workers who feel good about their contributions.
Image Credit: Supporting employee goals | Getty Images
How to Make More Money, Retain the Best Employees and Grow Your Business — All at the Same Time
Is it possible to keep your brightest team players from moving on? Yes, if you focus on growth. Here's how to do it sustainably — and with a people-centered focus.
The floodgates have opened for talented professionals. Now that the Great Resignation is alleviating people's fears of becoming "job jumpers," high performers are seeking greener pastures. But this doesn't mean that your company can't hold onto your best employees — you just have to win their loyalty.
One of the best ways to do this is to focus on your corporate growth. How does growing your business, brand and revenue help you reduce turnover? According to Ceridian's "2022 Pulse of Talent" report, 30% of active job seekers say they are looking for new roles due to a lack of growth opportunities at their current jobs. Almost 20% say it's because their work doesn't align with their skills.
A lot of workers want their skill sets to be identified, molded and honed. They want to be immersed in a company that sees them as part of the solution today and tomorrow. By scaling your business, you can satisfy all these employee desires. As you grow, you'll have more money to invest in training, more positions and roles to offer talented workers and more chances to create a culture that makes people want to stick around for the long term.
Of course, growth won't happen overnight. It won't happen by accident, either. To increase your corporate profits and provide team members with the opportunities and encouragement they're craving, you'll need to make intentional changes. Here are three steps to get you started.
1. Empower top talent to think like entrepreneurs
As a founder, you know what it's like to be an entrepreneur. You've had to innovate, facilitate and advocate for yourself and your business to get where you are. Do your other team members have the same experiences? Only 16% of adults in the U.S. could be considered entrepreneurs, according to Babson College research. However, your employees (and company) could benefit from adopting an entrepreneurial mindset.
To drive growth and simultaneously reward top achievers, ask key players to help you overcome obstacles and problems standing in the way of growth. Empower them to devise creative solutions. You might even want to authorize them to take steps forward without asking, such as by building a product prototype or working with marketing to attract untapped audiences. Google, for example, encourages employees to spend 20% of their time on what they think would most benefit the company.
Just make sure you offer a soft landing for any ventures that don't pan out. Giving your employees permission to experiment and then pulling away the safety net when they don't succeed isn't fair. When workers feel like they can flex their entrepreneurial mindset, they tend to be more adaptable, more innovative and less stressed. Plus, they'll be more apt to go the extra mile for your company, which can prompt faster growth.
2. Paint a clear vision of what's down the road and around the bend
To maintain your best team members and propel your company toward growth, you have to show your team where you're going. Never assume that workers have read your annual business plans or that they can somehow read your mind. Employees won't know your chosen direction until you tell them.
This puts the onus on you and the rest of your leadership team to lay out company goals for employees. You'll need to go one step further, though. In addition to describing your plan, illustrate how every person can contribute to it. Be as specific as possible so your teams can see where they fit in.
When people feel valued, they'll think twice before leaving. They might also feel more energized because of their sense of belonging. Throughout 2021, Gallup noted a drop in employee engagement. Providing a business roadmap can help stimulate the mental excitement your employees might be missing. At the same time, your purpose-driven team members will be more likely to want your business to grow — and to contribute to that growth.
3. Promote from within when possible
When your business promotes from within and is on a growth trajectory, talented employees know it. They realize that they might just be months away from landing their next role or fulfilling their career path dreams. As such, they'll be less likely to reach out to recruiters.
Although business growth might open up promotion opportunities, you'll also want to reimagine how every employee can contribute to your company's success and scalability. For example, you could reconfigure a role to utilize someone's unique skill set. Case in point: You could pay your best cold caller more and also put them in charge of training other sales team members.
Promoting internally and moving people around creates closer connections in your workforce. Employees will get to know each other and form bonds. Just be certain that you're coaching everyone appropriately and educating your managers on how to mentor their strongest team members. A case study by Together found that employees who took part in a company mentorship program were almost 50% less likely to leave the organization.
Sometimes, business growth means bringing on new talent. That's understandable. Just be sure that you focus on retaining as many high performers as possible. If you don't provide top talent with the career and development opportunities they're looking for, then you'll find yourself back where you started.
You must have seen a lot of successful entrepreneurs who have set up huge businesses and employed hundreds of people. While it’s inspiring to look at these personalities, you should understand that not all successful entrepreneurs are great leaders.
Great leaders are not just entrepreneurs with the goal of creating a profitable business. Rather they are visionaries who are capable of motivating their employees to make their vision a reality. In doing so, they will always take their employees with them on their road to success.
They are not like the boss who commands their employees, micromanages them, demands respect, creates authority and generates fear.
On the contrary, they are the ones who set the right example, treat others with respect and kindness, have a clear vision and are honest. They listen to you, value you and motivate you to do what’s best for you and the organization.
If you want to be someone like that, this post is for you. In the following section, we’ll look at three easy ways to become a better leader for your employees. So let’s get started.
1. Be a good listener.
One of the most important traits of a good leader is to be a good listener. In the world of the internet and digital devices, being a good listener has become a lost art. But to be a good leader, you should be able to listen to your employees attentively and empathically.
For that, you have to give them your time. Pay attention to what your employees have to say. They might want to share an idea, clarify their doubts, ask for opinions, etc.
But not everyone is good at expressing themselves. Some people need time to gather their thoughts before putting them into words. You have to be patient with such people.
Ask questions to clarify your doubts and understand the situation better. Once you hear their thoughts, worries and concerns, take your time to reflect on them and express agreement with certain points first. By doing that, you can help them diffuse their anxiety and feel more comfortable with you.
Now come up with a solution to solve your employee’s problems. If you think the issues can be resolved with a few discussions, make it happen. Explain to them how you'll take care of it and let them know that they don’t need to worry about it. This will help your employees have peace of mind and confidently believe that you have their back.
2. Learn to handle failure.
No matter how successful or powerfulyou are, there will be times when you’ll go through hardships, experience failures and feel demotivated. Good leaders don’t give up at such times. Instead of being demoralized and unmotivated, find ways to learn how to handle failures positively.
No one likes to fail. But failure and success are part and parcel of life. And you might have to face them every now and then. A good way to cope with failure is to develop realistic thoughts about your failures.
For example, instead of giving up, reaffirm to yourself that you have failed because you have challenged yourself to something difficult.
Some people try to put the blame on others. Good leaders don’t do that. They acknowledge the things they have learned from their failures and take responsibility for their actions. Once they do that, they involve their team to identify their mistakes and plan ways to move forward.
Discuss your mistakes with your team. In doing so, try to learn from your mistakes and see how to do things differently the next time.
3. Serve as a model.
Good leaders serve as role models by being examples of optimism, persistence and hope. If you too want to be a good leader, you should exhibit positive traits and characteristics that inspire people to respect and admire you.
Always be empathetic to your employees and treat them like your extended family. Remember, your business is thriving only because of the hard work of your employees. So treat them with the respect and kindness they deserve.
Make sure to apologize if you lose your temper. Never play the blame game and learn to take responsibility for your actions. Little things like these can make you more approachable and make your employees be more fond of you. It can also let them know that you care for them, and they may look up to you as a role model.
It’s not easy to be a good leader. Anyone can sit in an office and delegate tasks to their employees. Being a good leader is more than just that. The above tips can help you be a great leader and help you shape your road map to success.
Growing a small business team isn’t just about hiring – it’s also about retaining your current employees. This concept is more important than ever as companies are struggling to find qualified and interested candidates. Here are tips for both hiring and retaining top talent, thanks to members of the online small business community.
Upgrade Your Onboarding Checklists by Ditching Excel
Excel is often the default option for charts and checklists. But if you use this for hiring and onboarding, it may be time to upgrade.
Use These Recruitment Tools to Improve Your HR Strategy
HR is just like any other business department; there are tools to automate and improve your processes. If you haven’t already, try online or software recruiting tools.
Remove Drudgery and Dread from the Workplace
You can’t possibly get the best out of your team if they dread coming to work. So if you have an unpleasant office environment, improving it should be your top priority.
Reward Employees to Improve Their Experience
You shouldn’t only evaluate your team when there’s something to criticize. Rewarding team members for quality work is equally as important.
Don’t Let Customers Chase Away Your Best Employees
The “customer is always right” philosophy can make life harder on your employees. In fact, difficult customers may cause some team members to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Learn How to Hire Freelancers
Freelancers can be an ideal way to grow your team without taking on extra office space or covering benefits and training.
Run Effective Remote Meetings
Meetings are a big part of most workplaces. But allowing team members to work remotely – or at least attend meetings that way – can be seen as a major benefit.
Find the Best State to Start Your Franchise
Opening a successful franchise business requires many ingredients, like access to capital and an eager pool of potential employees. Many of these factors change based on the location. So where you choose to start may impact your ability to hire and afford a franchise.
Combat Impostor Syndrome in Your Business
Impostor syndrome can make entrepreneurs feel ill-equipped to run their companies. And it often impacts employees as well. Combating it may help businesses work more effectively from multiple angles.
Inspire Others Through Positivity
Positive attitudes can rub off on others. At work, inspiring others through happiness and positivity may even lead to improved morale and productivity.
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