Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
For too many people, happiness isn’t something they get from work. But happiness is the most valuable thing any employer can give their team. It keeps them motivated. It makes them less difficult to retain, more engaged and more likely to actually assist with the job requirement, “other duties as assigned.”
Engagement: If there’s a problem with employee engagement it might not be that the employee has a motivation problem. It might be that they have trouble being engaged because they’re mired in busy work. In that case, automating parts of their workload can help them regain focus. They may be disengaged because they don’t feel like they’re connected to the rest of the workplace. In which case, project management software can help everyone see the part they play. Make sure you’re opening a dialogue to find the source of disengagement. Don’t just assume it is a self-motivation issue.
Growth: Most people have a plan. They want to improve and to grow. They want to learn more skills and have a career, not just a job. If you’re not prepared to help them do that, they will find someone who can. Everyone has to move on at some stage. But you need to offer them proper training and internal promotion opportunities. That way, you’ll retain those key players for longer.
Information: Uncertainty is the enemy of happiness. In times of change, if the employees aren’t informed, they’ll assume the worst. So you have to make sure you take the time to communicate with them. If something happens that is going to affect the whole business, tell them. Protect employees with prompt communication. If you keep things like that under wraps, you will have a very hard time keeping their trust.
Respect: Trust is essential. If they don’t trust you, they won’t be able to communicate freely or work happily. To build trust, you have to show respect. Even when employees do wrong, resist the urge to chew them out in front of their colleagues. Keep criticism private and make sure it’s used as an opportunity for correction. It’s not your excuse to work off some steam on people who are supposed to be on your side.
Reward: On the inverse, when someone does well, praise them to the high heavens. The best kinds of bosses are those who don’t take credit but pass it onto their people. As well as rewarding them, make sure you’re vocal about your appreciation. Be genuine and straightforward when someone has helped the business through individual effort. It emphasizes the kind of behavior you want to see. It establishes a standard and it makes people feel worth something in their work.
The tips above are all about making the individual a part of the team as a whole. Build your employees. Respect them. Protect them. Treat them like you would do a member of a family and they’ll return the favor.