As a leader in business, you have probably, on more than one occasion, said "People are my best asset". If that’s true, what are you doing about them? Are you intending to do "something" to lift your team's game in 2020?Along with the plans for purchasing new equipment, reducing energy costs, a new marketing and sales strategy and the like, what are your plans for your people in 2020? How are you looking to improve their skills and abilities, their value to the business and their overall general happiness?Here are six tips that you can implement in the early part of 2020 to improve your business through your people.
Your business may be big enough to have a HR department or a HR person. (It's a dreadful term, but so commonplace now that we kind of ignore its connotation.) If you do, then you may think of any activity of improving your people’s lot as an "HR issue". This is a mistake. You need to take the lead to lift your team's game. Yes, you must involve HR in the program, but you need to be the champion.
If you are looking for a change in behaviour or in attitude from your staff in 2020, it is imperative that you "walk the talk"; and that you are credible and authentic. However, this does not mean it is all about you. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal with unrealistic expectations. The most powerful and long-lasting improvements from your staff will come from the people themselves. At Nenke Consulting, we always ask our leaders to form a small team of people from different areas of the business. This team is then responsible for providing quality options and suggestions on how to improve staff engagement and performance throughout the year. You will be surprised with what they come up with.
It’s been over 50 years since Frederick Herzberg introduced his Motivator-Hygiene theory which is as much relevant today as it was in the 1960’s. The fact that some things truly motivate people (motivating factors) and other things are just expected, or have a short-lived impact on motivation (hygiene factors) makes good sense. Salary is always the pivot point. Many of us believe that if we get more money then we will be more motivated at work. This is not true. Whilst an increase in pay is not demotivating, it does not increase motivation over the initial spike. What your employee is really saying (after giving them a rise) is "It’s about time" or "I’ve deserved that" and "there better be another one next year". I’m not saying you shouldn’t give pay rises but don’t expect a proportionate increase in performance. In fact what truly motivates your staff is your willingness to recognise their achievements; it is giving them challenging and interesting work to do and showing them a path for their future growth in the business.
Micromanagement gets a bit of a bad rap these days. If you give people space, then you are "too high-level" and "not prepared to roll the sleeves up". And if you are too interested and involved, then you are "micromanaging me". It’s a tough gig being a business leader! However, what micromanagement is really about is that you are not backing in your staff to do things. You have given them a task and yet you hover over them; or you constantly check in, give disapproving glances; maybe you do part of the task yourself to make it "easier" for them and so on... You think you are trying to help. But the message you are communicating is that you don’t think they can do the task and you would prefer to just do it yourself. This will just lead to exasperation all round. Give your staff the task and then give them freedom to do it without interference. If they fail, then they will learn to do it better next time. Whether they succeed or not at first, that approach will definitely lift your team's game
We work with many businesses that complain to us about change fatigue. All business, large and small, need to keep changing and growing, or they go backwards. Sure, making change happen in a smooth and sustainable way is difficult; but it is achievable, it just takes extra effort. What are you changing in 2020 for your business? New machinery? Changing locations? A new process or a new IT system? Any significant change will have positive and negative impacts on your people. Understanding those impacts, exposing them and dealing with them is key to your change success. In this way, your business and your staff will build up a change mindset and will overcome change fatigue.
Running a business can be tough work. Really tough. You may need to be tough with your suppliers, partners, competitors and sometimes your staff. However, don’t think you need to have a front of toughness all the time. People don’t expect their leaders to be "the big dog" any more with all the answers. People want to see some vulnerability, relatedness and even, dare I say it, humour. Your people will respect you more as a leader if they are not fearful or reserved in approaching you. Give it a try next year and I bet you it will work!
Nothing is guaranteed with any strategy for people management. We are all unique and fallible. As in our relationships outside of work, there are always twists and turns and new approaches we need to try. However, starting a people-centred approach within your business, using some or all of the tips described here will certainly steer you on a good path to improve the value from your "best assets" in 2020! If you like Craig's post, here is a selection of other posts by Craig that you may enjoy: