If you’re an entrepreneur like me, the scenario of employees asking for a pay raise sounds familiar right? Well, the complete opposite happened to me right when Covid-19 hit.
It wasn’t just one or two employees. It was a line-up of employees asking for a pay deduction. Right outside my office in the morning!
Grateful yet shocked, I asked, “Why would you do that?”
“We don’t need the money as much as some of these people do,” they said firmly.
They just wanted to make sure that all employees had enough to pay their bills and that the business would stay strong through the pandemic.
That wasn’t just a moving moment for me. It’s a leadership lesson that I’ll never forget as the founder of a 400-employee, $100M+ business:
Culture is at the heart of your business.
Now, I know that culture is often thrown around as a buzzword. Here’s how I define culture: Show people that you care. Show them that there's love. That you’re looking out for them. That you will go out of your way to help them.
Want to show your employees that you care? Here are a few of our tested and proven ways.
1. Pay 10% better than your competitors.
I learned the 10% rule from a multimillionaire who owns car dealerships, an industry that has a high turnover rate. That’s how he has attracted amazing people to work with him and stay with him. Now, why is that important? Based on our years of hiring and training, we’ve found that great employees get more done and become advocates for your business.
Here’s the thing: A-players have loads of options. They are usually in a job they’re happy with and/or they have a few offers on the backburner.
The most direct way to show that you mean serious business is paying above market rate, or better than your competitors. People want to know that you acknowledge them for the quality of their work or talents. As I’m writing this article, I verified this with Adam, my COO: We actually pay more than 10%, and it goes way up for high achievers who want to increase their income (with performance pay and incentives.)
2. Forget about meetings. Do 1-on-1s with your employees instead.
Team meetings still have their place. But the real winner for me has been 1-on-1 sessions with our employees. Even with 400 employees, I still do 1-on-1s! It’s how you connect with your people on a much deeper level.
I’m currently planning to take an hour each day to reach out to 15 employees — roughly 75 calls per week — so that I can celebrate them for their work. It’s as simple as saying “I’ve only got three minutes, but I just want to let you know that this stuff that you’re doing is standing out to me!”
Of course, this needs to be a company-wide effort. Every month, we do 1-on-1 goal-setting sessions, so that we make sure each employee is performing according to their KPIs and has the support they need to succeed.
Now, how do you do this systematically as your business scales like ours? You don’t need a U.S. memory champion’s brain. You just need a CRM to keep track of employee performance.
3. Focus on continuous training, not just one-time training.
Most companies train their new hires intensively for the first week to a month and then they just leave their hires to figure things out. In other words, they do sporadic or, worse still, zero training.
And that’s a tragedy! Why? Having trained several hundred technicians who have made thousands of sales, here’s why I put so much importance on continuous training: The better you train, the less likely fires will happen in your business, and the longer your best employees will stay. And remember, it costs a lot more money to hire a new employee than to keep an existing one. Especially if they are an A-player!
To train your employees continuously, here’s what you can offer:
• Operating manuals and checklists: These go hand-in-hand to make sure that your employees know what to do and how to do things every single time. If you want to scale, your entire business needs to be able to deliver quality consistently.
• Group training sessions: Every morning, we do what we call a Morning Mojo call, where we align on priorities, roleplay different sales strategies and celebrate wins as a team.
For your employees, paying better, doing 1-on-1s and continuous training all point toward one thing: recognition.
Culture is ultimately about creating a structure for your employees to succeed and to be recognized for their successes. Every single day!
After all, most of us spend over eight hours a day at work. We might as well work with people who genuinely care about us.
And that’s what I said to my employees that day: “We’re gonna make it through this. We’re a family. We’re gonna stick together.”
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