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Employees are extremely important to a company. To the customer, they ARE the company. They represent the business and ownership’s beliefs and business philosophy. Think about it; the customer calls in an order and they speak to a representatives. Are they friendly? The employees in production and the warehouse handle products. How does that product look when it is received by the customer? Is it a quality product handled by someone who cares? For any employee that is customer-facing, how do those people speak about the company?

Having employees that best represent our company is why it’s so important to hire right in the first place. We live in a world in which people are blame-shifters or avoid accountability. If someone makes a mistake or is fired, they believe it has to be someone else’s fault – right? But if we’ve done our due diligence when recruiting, then I can concentrate more on keeping my quality team vs. weeding out the bad ones.

Retention can be broken down into a few areas: compensation, appreciation, communication.

Retaining employees has to be looked at in a competitive manner. In other words, the employee will want to work at the place that will give them the most for what they do. This pertains not only to their wage, but also health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and paid time off including vacation/sick days, paid holidays, and retirement. Keeping all that in mind, how much do you pay somebody? I suggest that you do a little research to get an idea of what other employers are paying for the same job. It’s important to be competitive, especially for critical positions in the company. Ask yourself: If this person left tomorrow, how bad would we be hurting? Because if a person is an impact player in my business, then I should be paying them more than others in the area for that position.

Employees want to feel appreciated. Simply paying them is usually not enough. Words of encouragement will go a long way. Look people in the eye and thank people for all of their efforts; often. Another way I have found to be effective to show appreciation is through an occasional picnic or breakfast. We tried this and I was surprised at how effective it was. It seemed like such a small gesture, but was very well received. Another way to show appreciation is through gift cards. Our team earns gift cards for shipping with certain companies. I also hand out gift cards when I see people really putting forth extra efforts.

Something as simple as good communication can go a long way. It’s my responsibility to tell employees what I expect, because they can’t read my mind. When employees meet those expectations, acknowledge and thank them. And correct them when they do it wrong with direct, respectful communication versus yelling and screaming. I was amazed when I had to correct an employee. I called the associate into my office and kindly, but directly, told her where improvements needed to take place. She was overcome with emotion and began to tear up. I incorrectly assumed that I had upset her because she had been corrected. She explained that she had never been communicated with before in a job setting and she appreciated it! Wow, was I surprised. But that moment demonstrated the importance of sharing your expectations.

Management Style

Many management styles can be effective. Because individuals are unique, so is the way they manage people, or prefer to be managed themselves. My style is a kind of quiet strength and calm. I have been told that I have a calming effect on the whole company when I am present. Oppositely, when I am absent, the company seems to be in a state of chaos. I think anyone can have a calming effect on their team by not overreacting and approaching challenges with a level head. My desire is to be a servant leader. If I see something that is dirty, I clean it. If the soap dispenser needs to be refilled, I refill it. I will certainly delegate tasks; but I also think it is important for people to see that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty.

Listen to your employees. Whatever you are doing, when an employee needs to talk, I highly recommend you make the time. Two things will happen: you will convey that you care about what that person has to say and you may gain some valuable insight.

Delegating tasks is one of my biggest challenges. I start with a list of key people and the strengths that each person possesses. I ask myself: What can ONLY I do? Then I ask that same question of each of my key people. And as a good manager, I encourage each of those key people to delegate as well. Some people want to hold onto certain duties thinking they are the only one that can do it when in fact someone else is also capable of accomplishing it! For my business to run efficiently, I need to take advantage of people’s strengths and all of my resources – which all requires delegation.

In everything I do, I try to complete it with humility and honesty! People are always watching. Whether customers or employees, it’s important not to lose their trust. If you are full of pride, then you are certain to fail. Strive to be honest – always. People tend not to forget being lied to – even once. Do your best to be a man/women of your word.

The saying “you can’t make everyone happy” is common for a reason. But it doesn’t stop me from trying. Spending time on your employees is never a bad investment. Thank you for taking the time to learn how I cultivate good employee relationships. They make my business successful!

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