Whether you’re a distinguished MBA with decades of experience or just kicking off your first startup, finding the right method for measuring the success of your business is crucial. However, success metrics are not necessarily a one-size-fits-all model. Obvious KPIs such as, “Am I making money, or am I on track to make money?” carry their weight for any business model, but many other factors come into play. Some may measure their success by customer engagement, others by keeping overhead down, and so on. But one thing remains certain: no matter the type or size of your business… people matter.
It seems so simple, right? Hire talented people, produce strong results. Though that logic is great in theory, the fact is that people move around. Today, people change jobs an average of 12 times during his or her career, spending an average of five years or less in each position. Common reasons people transition voluntarily are related to pay, career advancement, work-life balance and subpar corporate culture.
Given these metrics, business leaders are finding that holding on to people who are vital to the success of their organization is now a top priority. But how do you create an environment that is sticky enough to keep your current team members, and attractive enough for new talent?
5 tips for keeping quality people in your business
By prioritizing your people above all else, everything else will naturally fall into place. Successful businesses are driven by motivated individuals who would go above and beyond for the company and colleagues they love. Here are five tips for keeping your team motivated for the long haul.
1) Numbers and money should be secondary. One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is putting sales at the tip of the spear when going to market. Many business leaders believe, “if we get the sales first, we can figure out the rest later.” Wrong. This short-sighted mentality will inevitably lead to failure. In today’s digital society, where customers are empowered by online reviews and have access to free trials and demos, first impressions matter. While it may be tempting to prematurely launch a product or service when you have your top prospects’ attention, it is always best to be diligent and prepared, rather than to over-promise and under-deliver. Additionally, putting sales above all else is a recipe for a toxic corporate culture. If team members feel that making sales is your top priority, the people who make up the foundation of your company are hung out to dry. Remember that every team member has a role, and each of those roles – even “cost center” positions – are the support beams of your business.
2) What you permit, you promote. Culture is contagious. Whether that contagion is good or bad, the fact is that by nature, people possess a “monkey see, monkey do” attitude. That’s why we face forwards in elevators, or naturally walk on the right side of the sidewalk when passing other pedestrians. The same goes for corporate culture. Your attitude and demeanor directly impact your team members. If you have a positive outlook, you’ll find that your team members will stay positive as well. If you are negative and point fingers instead of owning up to your mistakes, you’re promoting that same behavior amongst your team. Remember that your actions are constantly being evaluated by the people around you – especially your direct reports. On the flip side, beware of negativity rings. We all know the old saying… misery loves company. Unhappy people tend to gravitate toward one another, especially when they share the same complaints. If this is happening in your organization, figure out why and resolve the issue. If there are a few bad apples at the root of the drama, decide whether their talent outweighs their negative attitude.
3) Communicate and collaborate. There is a happy medium somewhere between micro-managing and isolating your team members. Find it. While it is important to ensure your team members have the tools and skills to execute their objectives successfully with minimal direction, everybody needs guidance. One of the biggest factors that leads to people jumping ship is feeling like their role is insignificant. If you’re not making time for your direct reports, they will begin to question whether their role is necessary for the company’s success. Be sure to spend time with your team members at least weekly, and establish a communication process in the event of unexpected or last-minute requests. Your team members should never feel like they’re bothering you. This can be resolved by sharing your calendar with your team so they know the best times to reach you, or acknowledging their texts and emails even if you don’t have an immediate answer. At any given time, you should know your team members’ current priorities, and they should know yours. If not, you may want to re-evaluate how you’re communicating with them.
4) Promote a shared vision brand wide. Whether your company is made up of 10 people or 10,000, having a shared vision across your entire brand is crucial for your team members’ motivation. If everybody is working toward the same goals, success is inevitable. Transparency is key here. From top executives to support staff, company goals should be known and understood brand wide. Sharing these goals with the entire team will solve issues relating to siloed work environments and brand inconsistency. When everybody speaks the same language, everybody wins. A first step in ensuring your organization’s vision and message are resonating with your team is to establish a mission statement. Figure out, in a nutshell, your company’s mission and share it with your team. How that mission gets accomplished will follow, but figuring out the why before the what is imperative for success.
5) Make your team members feel like they are part of something bigger. Most of us spend our lives trying to figure out our purpose. We have an inherent desire to make a difference in the world, and sadly, many of us never figure out how. This “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” attitude often results in bitterness and resent, which can carry over to the workplace. Even if your team members are performing their jobs perfectly and maintain a positive attitude, don’t assume they are truly happy. Create an environment where they feel like they’re not only contributing to the success of the company, but to humanity in general. Let the workplace be their catalyst for changing the world, even in small steps. A great way to do this is to establish a philanthropic division within your company. Find a cause your team members are passionate about and organize activities and events where the team can work together to make a difference. Some companies (SGH included) give team members an extra day off each year to volunteer at an organization of their choice. Small gestures such as these make a world of difference, and they cost you almost nothing.
The days of being employed at one company for life are long gone, and people are no longer settling for jobs they don’t love. After all, most of us spend 1/3 of our lives at work. Shouldn’t we make it count? While it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day routines and processes, remember that each of us is a product of our environment. Your business relies on the harmony of the people driving it, so always keep your team members at the forefront. You will find that by having the right people in place (and keeping them there), your company will be positioned to move mountains.