One of the challenges of a business is developing your team of employees.
Previous posts have discussed how to find and hire new employees (Hiring New Employees, Time to Hire, and Employees are Your Foundation are three examples). The difficult part though is getting everyone to work together and focused on the end goal.
Business literature is full of thoughts, ideas and strategies on how you can achieve a solid team. And it has been that way for lots of years. Herzberg examined it at Lincoln Electric and other places. Thoughts on what motivates an employee and what might be considered hygiene factors or those that items that need to be there but they don’t make an employee motivated or happy were aspects he studied. Maslow, another management guru, suggested employees had a hierarchy of needs and that the lower needs have to be filled first before higher needs would be sought after. This thought fits well with Herzberg’s idea.
Since that time, there has been a continual stream of new ideas and theories in terms of effective personnel management. As the years have went by, getting the most out of your team has went through the idea of “directed and controlled” to today’s focus on “participatory management.” When I hear directed and controlled, I see a sheep dog working the sheep. Everyone is herded up and kept in a tight bunch and then put into the corral. We have largely left this idea behind and we should be glad.
Yet even the term management also seems out of place. You can manage your money but can you, or should you, manage your staff? You can also manage your store but deciding what to display and where to place a display is far different than not fully utilizing a resource with huge potential.
Recently I have read some articles that suggest building a team means to lead. That seems to be on the right track but, again, you may be out in front with no one behind you. In order to be an effective leader, you must have built trust and respect and have a shared vision and goal.
To achieve this, the words guided and participatory come to mind. Those two terms suggest your input but encourages group participation in the steps to take and even the goal. This doesn’t mean giving up control; it is your business. However, the harder and more often you push, the lower your team strength becomes. Participation not only means, however, employees involved in the discussion but you involved in the grunt work as well as the long-term planning.
We hear a lot how the millennial employee requires a different leadership style. I would argue that the style suggested today would have been welcomed for many years.
Your employees form a foundation for the business. Make that foundation solid through your effective guidance and daily interaction. And remember, your employees are learning not only by what you say but by what you do.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.