Something that we're very passionate about here at All Heart Consulting, is developing happy employees. There are many different ways of saying this, but one such quote that we especially love is by Zig Ziglar in which he states "You don't build a business. You build people. And then people build the business."
This is absolutely key, and the heart of what we believe in. This may feel counterintuitive to you, or it may be second nature to you. Either way, there is always room for improvement when it comes to developing happy, successful employees. It really comes down to one thing, and that's respect. Adults crave to be treated with respect, and they know that their past experiences matter but are too often told to forget them or only focus on what they're being told by their current employer. This is a mistake, even though it feels counterintuitive, even if an employee is not in a position of management their past experiences can help enhance, grow and strengthen your business.
Adults also crave to be told the reason why behind things, to not be told feels disrespectful to the adult learner. You can obviously act within reason; sometimes it isn't possible to share an entire "why" behind a task or new procedure. But being down to earth and honest with your employees in an informal discussion or email will show them that you trust them, you value their input, and yet you still need them to do things a certain way. Don't tell your employees that the "why" is above their pay grade, because if they're being asked to carry out a procedure then it is within their pay grade to know and be treated with respect.
"You don't build a business. You build people. And then people build the business." - Zig Ziglar
Respecting your employees goes much deeper than just treating them fairly and nicely, but it also means taking into account their past experience, their education, their ideas and opinions, and their strengths and weaknesses. When you respect an employee, it means you appreciate them for who they are, where they are. Everyone has things they need to work on in the workplace, but if you focus only on an employee's weaknesses you will inevitably drive them to leave, underperform, or mistreat a guest because they've become so disgruntled that they no longer care about their job or their company.
It seems simple, but it's far too easy to fall into the trap of only focusing on the negative
about an employee. Perhaps you don't get along with them on a personal level, perhaps they frequently make small mistakes. Force yourself to focus on what they bring to the company instead. Do guests enjoy their interactions with them? Do they have a great phone presence? Are they a great sales person? Do they have attention to detail? The list goes on. In previous articles we've talked about the rule of three, which means that for every negative about an employee you must bring three positives to the table in a coaching session. Try this even in your own thinking. If an employee frequently forgets to sign off on a closing or opening checklist, what are three things they do correctly without fail? Not only will this mentally prepare you for a successful coaching session but it also changes your mindset and perspective.
When an employee comes to you with an opinion, a complaint, or idea - it is vital that you make them feel appreciated and heard. Even if you know that what they're bringing to the table can never be accomplished, or won't be something you can implement, it's important that they know that you hear them and appreciate their thoughts and that you explain why this may not come to fruition. Respect their past experience if they tell you that they used to do things a certain way at their former job, rather than getting frustrated and telling them that their new workplace is not their old one. They may have some good ideas! If they come with a complaint, hear them out. Most of the time an employee just wants to feel heard, but if you can offer solutions to the problem that's even better!
Developing happy employees also means that they get regular recognition and appreciation. This doesn't mean that you have to invest in a huge bonus campaign, buy them gift cards or give them anything. Just telling an employee, "You did a really great job today, thank you so much!" is enough. Appreciation and recognition are so important, and when you recognize that an employee is putting in extra effort, tell them you've noticed! The key to this is that it is regular and across the board. Each and every employee brings something to the table that helps the business. If your entire team hits a goal, maybe you should be investing in a recognition party, buy them lunch, or give them each a gift card. When employees felt appreciated, they are much more likely to stay with your business and to perform better because it gives them an extrinsic motivator.
Finally, treat your employees like adults, not school children. For a lot of us, our earliest leadership example was our teachers. It becomes like a foundation in our mindset, but no matter how great your teachers or professors were, they are not managers in an adult environment and most of them (save adult educators) are probably not experts in the field of adult learning. The tools and skills that teachers have for children and young adults, do not translate to the world of adult learning. Believe it or not, as a manager, you are also dealing with adult education and training. The key to adult learning is respecting your employee's past experiences and valuing them for their knowledge. It also means using tools like self-development plans, and allowing your employees to have a say (within reason) in their growth, discipline, and success. Respect, value, and appreciate your employees and they will blossom. As we like to say, happy employees = happy guests.
To learn more about this, and to have a development plan customized to your business needs, please don't hesitate to reach out to us!