Do you know one of the quickest ways to ruin your business? It’s quite simple and I see it with too many business owners: treat your people like they’re worthless, stupid or incompetent. I’m not really talking about customers, although if you treat them poorly of course you’ll ruin your business, but what we’re really talking about are your employees, joint venture partners and suppliers. How you treat these people has a direct impact on your business and on your customers.
I believe that everything can be connected back to a person, and that everything should be considered and decided with a person in mind. Yes, you need to make decisions that support your bottom line because you are running a business, but with any decision you make, you should consider the impact it will have on the people it affects. When you take people out of the equation because you don’t think they really matter or think the only person who matters is the customer or you the business owner, you’re opening yourself up to a world of trouble.
Just from the concept of the IQ you know that people have a range of intelligence levels. Not everyone was born or can learn to be a rocket scientist. However, most people have at least some smarts and no one should be treated as a pawn or unintelligent piece of property. If people aren’t doing the right thing or aren’t doing things as you want them done, there may be an issue with your communication to them or with their interest or motivation. You should explore this before assuming they’re stupid, talking down to them, yelling at them or micromanaging things.
Over the past few years there have been debates on telecommuting for work, maternity/paternity leave, and number of days in the work week, and benefits/bonuses as well as other work and people related topics. We’ve seen some businesses trying different things out including increasing the minimum wage or changing their work/life practices and respecting the fact that people want to have a life aside from work. There are also businesses who are reinvesting in a mission or vision and choosing to make a positive impact and give back in one way or another. I have to give these businesses credit for really trying to listen to their employees and doing something about the things that matter to them, as well as giving them and their customers an emotional and more personal reason to choose that business.
I believe that you can have employees who are fully engaged and excited to come to work. These are people who love what they do and who work at or with a company who respects them and treats them with dignity. When the business is a miserable place to work, when it’s dirty, when you’re constantly yelled at, when you’re belittled, when you’re not given the tools or resources you need to do your job, and when you’re not educated in the practices and procedures of the way the company prefers to do things, it’s not fun or exciting to come to work, and requires more and more effort with each passing month and year to drag yourself to working there. And as a result you’ve got unhappy employees who give less and less effort, care and attention to their job. Companies and business owners need to do a lot more to make sure that their employees are at the very least equipped to do the job they’re hired for and able to do so in a way that speaks well for the company, and maybe even enjoy their job and want to invest themselves in their job and the future of the company.
I encourage you to take time in the coming week to evaluate your practices with your employees and extended team. How are they treated? Do you really use their skills to the best of their ability and for the growth of the company? What can you do to improve the experience your employees have with your company, and by extension everyone else they talk or work with?