These employees do everything from managing tricky customers to helping you with strategy. They are, undeniably, the backbone of a successful business. Imagine if you treated them as well as you treated your best customers?
As a business owner or manager, it’s up to you to set a positive precedent for employees and build a thriving work environment. These ten principles will give you a bird’s-eye view into the ways you relate to your employees every day. With this new knowledge, make changes that inspire collaboration and mutual respect:
1. It Starts at the Top
A 2012 study highlighted in Inc. showed that compassionate leaders correlate with more productive employees. Compared to peers, leaders at the most profitable companies “understand people’s motivators, hopes, and difficulties and to create the right support mechanism to allow people to be as good as they can be.”
Embrace compassionate management by actively listening to others and working understand their viewpoint. One of the best ways to show compassion is giving your team the means to diffuse workplace stress with ample time off, regular breaks, and community-building events.
2. Treat Everyone With Kindness
Everyone from your all-star employee to the struggling worker deserves kindness. By going the extra mile to treat your team members with care and consideration, you empower them to do better every day. Consider putting one of these acts into practice at the office:
- Bring everyone coffee or tea
- Pay for your team to skip public transportation and Uber home after a long day
- Pass out gift cards
- Give people a paid day off on their birthday
3. Show, Don’t Tell
Business owners who double as role models show employees what they want to see on a day-to-day basis. When managers mentor employees by modeling the appropriate behavior, their team members are more likely to have a high job performance.
When you find yourself criticizing an employee, make sure you’re not exhibiting the same behavior. Work on keeping yourself accountable before addressing challenges with employees — there’s a chance they’re just mimicking your behavior!
4. The Only Time You Should Look Down on Someone is When You’re Helping Them Up
Most people leave their jobs because of a poor relationship with their boss. Prevent your managerial relationships from turning sour by only sharing criticisms with the intention of facilitating growth and improvement.
Monique Valcour, an executive coach, argues that managers and business owners need to take a proactive approach to help their employees to grow. She shares that “the vast majority (some sources say as much as 90%) of learning and development takes place…through new challenges and developmental assignments, developmental feedback, conversations and mentoring.”
By embracing your role as a coach and nurturing the growth of employees, you help them up rather than tear them down.
5. We’re All in the Same Boat
As a business owner, you’re in the same boat as your employees. Their successes are your successes; their failures are your failures. When tension arises, remember that an “us versus them” approach never works.
Instead, drop a derisive stance and recognize that people with different skillsets can all contribute to the common good. It’s your job as a business owner to harness the strengths of your employees toward a united goal.
6. Keep Calm and Carry On
A recent study from Interact suggests that 69% of managers say “there is something about their role as a leader that makes them uncomfortable communicating with their employees.” This anxiety about offering feedback limits the success of employees, who can’t improve their performance without thoughtful input from managers.
When you offer feedback — either through a formal review or regular meetings — stay calm and carry on. Make the feedback timely, and always ask for the employee’s thoughts.
7. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Employees love praise, but they also want pay that aligns with their worth as employees. Kip Tindell, the CEO of The Container Store, offers wages that are 50-100% more than the average, driving loyalty and decreasing turnover. This approach works for Tindell because his employees are three times more productive than the average worker and are highly engaged with customers.
Next time you’re amazed by the hard work and dedication of your employees, consider putting your money where your mouth is with a salary increase or seasonal bonus.
It will pay off in the long run.
8. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Even your best employees will show up late to work once in awhile. But rather than of focusing on nit-picky details, think about the big picture: Is this slip up becoming a habit? Does it affect the quality of the employee’s’ work? If the answers to these questions are a clear, “no,” don’t sweat it.
9. Good Walls Make Good Neighbors
“Good walls make good neighbors” translates to business management through healthy workplace boundaries. Below are four simple ways to make sure your employees feel secure and comfortable at work:
- Ensure that assigned tasks fall within the guidelines of active (and relevant) job descriptions.
- Don’t expect employees to read or answer email during off hours.
- Steer clear of inappropriate topics, especially when discussing personal life.
- Encourage team members to develop the emotional “sweet spot” where they’re still open to feedback, but they don’t take it personally. (See the graphic below.)
10. To Everything, There is a Season
Although you always want to retain your best employees, sometimes you need to let them go. Rather than resisting a move, support their long-term growth — it will benefit you too!
Garrett Harker, a Boston-based restaurateur, told Harvard Business Review that when one of his employees left to work at a rival restaurant, they still kept their mentor-mentee relationship. Eventually, she came back to open one of Harker’s new restaurant as a General Manager.
Harker suggests that business owners “never dissuade someone who’s been presented with an opportunity to ascend and to learn a new skill set,” and instead, to keep in touch with former employees.
By shifting your managerial behavior with this ten principles, you can empower employees. This new perspective offers your team extra support and nurtures your employees’ continued professional growth, productivity, and dedication to your company.