Want a business that stands the test of time? Take a break from balancing the books and optimizing workflows. Instead, get to work on your company's culture.
David K. Williams, author of The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning: Tying Soft Traits to Hard Results, knows how to keep employees motivated and invested in a company's growth. As the chief executive officer of Fishbowl, a provider of inventory management and asset tracking software for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), he not only ensures the wellbeing of his company, but also that of his workforce.
His non-negotiables are respect, belief, trust, loyalty, commitment, courage and gratitude. How does emphasizing these traits help leaders establish a culture of committed and empowered employees that continually strive for success? Williams offers some examples.
4 Ways to Build a Better Workplace
1. Resolve matters face-to-face
A critical aspect in maintaining a sense of unity among your workers is "not talking behind their backs," advises Williams. "If there's an issue, take it to the person," he adds.
Don't complain to everyone but the colleague that's causing trouble for you. The hushed tones and furtive glances fool no one. And venting your frustrations to coworkers won't solve the problems that inevitably crop up in every workplace. Worse, you're feeding the rumor mill, which has a knack of poisoning relationships and bringing workplace productivity to a grinding halt.
The answer is to be direct and respectful. Sit down with your colleagues and get matters out in the open. Avoid getting personal, however. "Keep the issue the issue," says Williams.
2. Take the stigma out of failure
"We allow people to fail," says Williams in speaking of his company. Since Fishbowl employees don't have to fear for their paychecks if they take the occasional wrong turn, they are able to sustain a rapid pace of innovation, he reports.
Without that anxiety hovering above employees like a dark cloud, creativity abounds. Bold and courageous ideas take root. Failures become learning experiences instead of red marks in a worker's record.
Don't let fear of failure stand between your business and game-changing ideas.
3. Delegate smartly
Effectively delegating work involves more than just assigning tasks and meting out responsibilities. It requires letting your teams find their own paths to successful outcomes.
"Let them do it, don't micromanage," urges Williams. Cut the strings; your employees are capable professionals, not puppets. Trust in your employees' skills and problem-solving abilities. "Give them parameters and let them go," he adds.
Resist the urge to pick apart their performance and quantify their progress. "The only measurement, over the long haul," should take the form of one simple question, says Williams. "Are they doing it a little bit better?"
Try it. You'll be amazed by what your workers can achieve when they're left to their own devices.
4. Promote a good work-life balance
As much as it may pain a business owner to hear, "work is not the most important part of their employees' lives," says Williams.
Family, faith and other passions often trump career. If the job winds up taking up too much time and energy away from your employees' other priorities, you may end up with an unfulfilled workforce that will jump ship at the first opportunity.
Focus on what makes people productive members of society, not just their function within your organization. Encourage them to view work as just one component of their lives that helps them achieve their personal goals and ambitions. They'll return the favor by consistently delivering first-rate results and reward you with their loyalty.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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