“A wave of cold air rushed over me, Michael! I realized as I was reading the white paper you shared with me, that I had become the bottleneck described in the article! My employees were sitting around waiting for me to discuss the issues, make the decisions, take the first steps, all of it! I realized I had inadvertently created a business that had become completely dependent upon me to have all of the answers, provide all of the answers and develop all of the answers. I was horrified to realize this, and I want to fix it. How do we get started?”
This is an actual quote from a conversation I had with one of my Business Owner clients recently. She is a very successful business founder who is very well respected and gets credit for paying attention to every detail, even the little details. There is just one problem. She is the one in her company who is usually paying attention to every little detail because she has not yet mastered the art and science of trusting and empowering her employees. That’s where we started the transformation for her company, where we were going to adjust the culture and shift the emphasis from avoiding mistakes and risk, to trusting the team to identify and execute the perfect actions to ensure our success once they understand the mission.
Engaging & Empowering Associates: So how do you engage and empower your employee associates in a bustling business, you ask? Here is a good place to start:
- Start with Values: When you founded your business you had a purpose, or you wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of starting the business. Share the story with your associates, and tell them what you originally intended when you hung out your shingle for the first time. Go into detail and describe the 5 or 6 core values that represent what you BELIEVE in and what you want your associates to represent every day in their business behavior. Talk about your values with your employees often, so often in fact, that it becomes like a thread that is woven into the fabric of your company’s culture. You want every employee associate in your company to know, understand and be mindful of the core values and thinking about tying their behavior back to those core values at all times.
- Mix in Your Mission and Vision: Be certain to share your mission and your vision with your associates at almost every company meeting and gathering briefly, so that they also become threads that knit together the culture of your company. You need every person who represents your company and your brand to be crystal clear about what the company and the brand represent in the community and to understand that every statement they make, every action they take contributes to your brand, or detracts from it. When associates understand the values, mission, and vision of the company, they feel trusted and included in the inner circle, and they willingly buy into representing the company in ways that reflect well upon the firm, provided that their values are congruent with the company’s values.
- Master the Art & Science of Motivation: First and foremost, realize that people behave in ways that are consistent with their own personal values. Make it your business to understand your people and be familiar with their values. Only hire associates whose values “fit” with your own. Make communicating with your employees a very high priority in your business, because if you don’t, operations will go to hell in a hand basket immediately. When you are communicating with your associates, you give yourself a chance to establish a high level of understanding. Understand that your team wants to have their human psychological needs met at work, starting with being able to have some choices and some autonomy in how they perform their duties. They will also want to feel that they belong on the team and that the rest of the team “belongs” as well, and will have their back. Finally, realize that your associates want to be able to exercise a high level of competency in their daily work. In essence, they want to be able to win, and win regularly. If you want to master the art and science of motivation, you need to get to know your employees as human beings and demonstrate to them, that helping them succeed in life is an important element of the work that is done at your company. The rest will take care of itself.
- Be the Leader You’d Willingly Follow: If you want your team to believe in you, then you need to demonstrate that you are a person worthy of being believed. Be consistent, be honest, be fair, be prepared, be respectful and be appreciative. With those powerful character traits as a start, you will be on your way. Realize that as the leader, your associates will watch every move you make and will hover around and hang on to every word that comes out of your mouth. So, given that you are onstage every minute of every day at the office, make sure that your decisions, your choices, your actions, your words, and your behavior speak volumes about the type of person you are, and the type of leader that you are. Your people will watch your lead, and follow it. Plan ahead. Be prepared. Practice what you preach. Perform when the pressure is on. That should do it…
- Create a Powerful Positive Environment for Success: You should hasten to create a very positive working environment within your company, one that anticipates change and encourages people to bring their best work to the effort so that we can consistently deliver positive results and change for our customers and our associates. Set the tone. We’re always moving forward around here…should be your subliminal and conscious message. I once worked for a brilliant leader who reminded us that we always want to win, but we don’t settle for winning with anything other than our best work. What a great message! Set expectations very clearly. Create a very happy and very engaged workforce by showing that you value great work and strong results. Reward the team as they begin to ascend to doing better and better work. Teach them how to have conflict positively and constructively. Teach them how to collaborate as teammates and to want to deliver their best work together as teams of teams. Create a perpetual positive motion machine.
So back to my client, the successful Business Owner who has become the bottleneck in her organization. She has done all of these five great Best Practices, and she is happy to report that her business is quickly removing the stopper from the bottle, and empowerment is beginning to radiate out in all directions in her growing business. Her employees are ecstatic because, while they liked working for her before, they LOVE working in this new business model that she is creating. A business model where she leads the company and allows her valuable employee associates to show their best in solving problems and making great decisions each day that are congruent with her values and vision for the company. We are less than 45 days into the transformation in her company, and the results are beginning to stack up nicely.
Michael is a leading member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance and an award winning Executive Development thought leader. During February of 2017, Michael will be leading two fantastic workshops designed to help you to lead your teams through conflict positively and to communicate with your team in ways that propel the team forward. We’d love to have you in these workshops! Unfortunately, space is limited, and the seats are going fast so, please contact us today and reserve your seat! Send your request to email@example.com. Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, “Delivering Ambitious Results!”