By Alex Feldman, an EO San Diego member and founder of Alexander Daas
An underlying critical element to any successful business is talent. The people behind your logo fuel the organization, cultivating company culture and energy in the process. And the right culture and energy bring with it excitement, eagerness to succeed and growth. When I think back on my years in retail and operations, I can’t help but recall the team members who made a difference—they were the driving force of my company. To set these people up for success, I employed a few ground rules that have proved successful in creating an environment that drives productivity, enthusiasm and loyalty.
Ban the word employee. Embrace the phrase, team members. In order for talent to feel like they are a part of something greater than day-to-day tasks, they have to care about their environment and what they’re doing. They have to feel like they’re a part of a team—with members who support, stand behind and even challenge one another. I ensure senior leadership not only understands the use of this phrase, but uses it daily to make team members know that they are more than “resources.” When I talk to the managers at my retail store, I choose my words wisely. I encourage them to empower their team members at each location to prosper in their role. This mindset of being a part of a team enables them to want to evolve with the company, and encourages them to push their boundaries.
Recognition is important—sometimes more so than compensation. Whether you’re in an office with a single team member or you have hundreds of staff around the globe, recognizing hard work and dedication is an instrumental part of management. I encourage my team to recognize employees during all meetings. Instead of keeping the recognition short, they focus on a few examples of why the employee deserves kudos. This not only puts a positive spotlight on the team member, but empowers others to work harder to be recognized one day. I make it a point to recognize employees, and I can see an immediate difference with performance—their drive and excitement peaks upon being recognized. In some instances, providing small rewards such as gift cards to that person’s favorite coffee shop goes a long way. Your US$50 reward never traveled so far.
Empower team members to grow, evolve and contribute. Irrespective of position, team members may have innovative ideas. Whether it’s sharing enhanced processes, sales or marketing ideas, encouraging team members to share their thoughts and providing the tools and structure to manifest their ideas is incredibly powerful, and it helps build an creative environment. This also supports advancing team members’ careers down a path they’re interested in (if they expressed an idea), and it sets them up to understand the importance of constantly evolving and enhancing processes. Some team members may be too shy to proactively share these thoughts. For this reason, I always make it a point to ask team members if they feel something can be made better. If they express interest in my question, I’ll encourage them to document the idea and what it takes to bring that idea to life. If their thinking aligns with my business goal and overall brand, I’ll encourage them to plot an action plan against a calendar to ensure something comes from their idea. I hold them accountable in a very lighthearted, yet empowering, way. And they love it.
Ultimately, great team members are the ones that allow you to grow and evolve as an organization, no matter the business or vertical. Without great talent, whatever the discipline, companies will struggle. Consider these quick, easy-to-implement tips to reward and inspire your employees.