Contrary to popular belief, successful businesses do not rest on the shoulders of a single person; they require entire teams of individuals supporting and working towards a shared vision. But how do you create these teams? From your employee pool, of course. The way you manage your employees now can significantly impact their actions later on. If you want them to stick around long enough to assist in the creation of your enterprise, then you need to make sure you’re meeting each of the following basic needs.
1. They need to feel empowered.
Believe it or not, most employees feel a basic need to contribute. They don’t want to settle for the completion of brainless tasks day after day after day. They want to help. They want to think. It’s your job as a leader to let them think. Too often leaders are afraid that giving employees the freedom to contribute ideas will lead to the wrong choice — and it absolutely might — but mistakes present more opportunities for good leadership than a workforce composed of mindless drones. Allow employees to share their thoughts, and then redirect any wayward thinking. Teach staff to process situations in a way that is beneficial to the overall goals of the company.
2. They need to feel included.
Nearly all humans want to feel included, whether they’re out with friends or at their desk. The best way to meet this need at work is to share with your employees. Make them a part of your common vision. Make them a part of your success. Let them work as a team to complete something that is an integral aspect of achieving your next goal. Sure, they might not accomplish tasks as well as you can. Sure, it’s tough to give up even the smallest part of your business ideas, but the reality of life is that people only care as much as you allow them to care. Inclusion fuels their fire, which then fuels your fire.
3. They need to feel appreciated.
Most leaders know that employees need to feel appreciated. We’ve made up entire “holidays” dedicated to the cause. What leaders don’t know is that there is so much more to appreciation than a bagel breakfast and a new notebook. In fact, appreciation doesn’t have to cost you anything at all. It can be as simple as saying, “Thank you.” It’s okay to be tough on your employees when you want them to deliver, but it’s imperative that you appreciate them when they have already done so. Valued employees are less likely to feel replaceable, and much more likely to offer value in return.
4. They need to feel trusted.
As difficult as it may seem, leaders need to learn to trust that their employees will both perform well and make the right decisions when faced with a difficult task. You can still set standards, but you need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes someone will let you down and so what if they do? Teach them how to handle the situation next time. Use screwups as coaching opportunities. If you can’t teach others to do what you need them to do — if you can’t trust them — you will never be capable of running a successful business.
5. They need to be mentored.
Most employees do not enter into the workforce capable of performing every aspect of every job with 100 percent accuracy and efficiency. They almost always require some form of training or mentorship to develop their skills. Some of this training should come directly from you and your company. Some of it, however, should come from an external source. It’s an unfortunate reality that a portion of what you say will be automatically disregarded by your staff members merely because you’re the boss. When an outside mentor says the same thing, however, it’s much more likely to make an impact. Even though the development is coming from someone other than you, employees will still recognize that you’ve made an investment in their future which is a form of value they’ll likely be eager to reciprocate.
6. They need to be challenged.
Every employee has a growth edge and it should be the goal of every future business leader to expand those employees beyond that edge. It will not be easy. In fact, it will require a lot of repetition on your part. Your goal is to eliminate the “stale mind” mentality that naturally develops when someone engages in the same activities on a daily basis. Think of your employees as arm muscles. A single workout isn’t going to give you beautiful biceps. You have to repeat the workout over and over again until, eventually, you build new muscle wall. It’s the same for your employees. Showing them something new once isn’t enough for them to master it. Challenge them again and again until the new skill is ingrained. Then, find a new skill and do it again.
Building a successful business is no easy feat, and many entrepreneurs would be hard-pressed to say they did it alone. It takes a strong, well-informed team to turn a single business idea into multiple bustling enterprises. Establish your supporting circle early. Cultivate your current employees into an irreplaceable corporate resource. Show them value. Invest in their well-being and professional development. Share them on your company goals. By taking the time to demonstrate their worth, you’re turning enterprise employees into advocates.