Hank Darlington: Empower your employees
Recently an ex-employee of ours called crying, saying the showroom she worked for didn’t appreciate her, that there was no leadership and no team culture. She missed the working conditions that were in place when she worked for us.
I related that loving her job and her teammates is very important to being happy in life. She just left that job and has gone to work for a showroom that has a reputation for having a great team environment. And, she’ll take with her most of the million dollars-plus a year that she sells.
That being said, here are some suggestions you might incorporate into your leadership techniques to develop happy and productive teams.
Be sure everyone understands and agrees on the difference your showroom makes in the lives of your customers: Your team may believe they simply sell faucets, showers or water closets, but what they really do is improve the lives of their customers. They sell happiness, comfort and joy. They help reduce stress. They help improve the value of their customers’ homes. Be sure they understand the impact they and your showroom have on the world around them.
Be an inspirational resource: One of the traits of superior leaders is the ability to challenge team members to leave their comfort zones and stretch their skill set. The benefits of inspiring your team are higher productivity, a greater commitment, profitability and lower turnover.
Encourage energy and mental renewal: Data shows employees who take a break every 90 minutes or so report a 30% higher level of focus than those who take zero or one breaks a day. They also report a nearly 50% greater capacity to think creatively and a 46% higher level of health and wellbeing.
Value employees: The numbers also show employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the company and are 67% more engaged. Show your employees how important and valued they are.
Focus on one task at a time: In our speedy, high-tech world we’ve come to believe we all can proficiently multitask. However, study after study proves the opposite to be true. For most of us, doing tasks one at a time is less stressful and more efficient. Help your team members develop a “to-do” list in order of importance and then give them a realistic timetable to accomplish those tasks.
Give each employee a purpose for their job: I read workers who derive meaning and significance from their jobs are more than three times as likely to stay with their employers.
Nurture every employee’s talent: Support the people on your team. Show them the ropes, help them grow and guide them toward achieving their goals. Always make time for them. Remember, without them there is no team. If you give your team members something they actually have a passion for and are good at, they will want to grow and develop their skills.
Invest in education: Do PK meetings at least twice a month. Do sales training at least once a month. Do weekly team meetings and communicate how the team and company are doing. Share your vision and goals. Establish a library of books, videos and CDs of various educational topics. Reward employees for using them. As a team leader learn how to receive and act on feedback from your team. Be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented. The point of all this is to collaboratively accelerate the learning process and you do this by sharing knowledge and experiences.
Learn to compliment: Most bosses are quick to criticize and complain, but slow to compliment. Everyone appreciates gratitude. Saying “thank-you,” “good job” or “I appreciate your help” can go a long way to inspire and motivate. Mistakes will happen. It’s all about how you use them to learn and improve. Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” When you want to give feedback, come prepared with a suggestion in hand.
Know your team: When you know your teammates on a personal level you will start to appreciate them as a person and working together becomes easier. More importantly, you will build trust. Chances are you probably spend more time with your team than you do with your friends or even your family. Do you want to be working amongst strangers or do you want to be working amongst friends? You might as well build a happy place to go to five days a week.
Good luck with your team building. Do a good job and you’ll see productivity increase (sales and profits), you’ll see stress levels decrease and you’ll see a lot more happy faces.