I love to see inspired team members in small businesses! It is easy to tell when employees enjoy their work, enjoy serving customers and enjoy each other. You feel it the minute you walk in the door of a shop or restaurant.
When I ask those inspired employees how they like working there, they tell me "I love my job" or "I love my boss" or "I love my teammates!"
It's just as easy to tell when team members are not inspired. There is a tension in the air. Employees go through the motions, almost in slow motion, without connecting with customers or expressing any genuine positive feelings. When I ask those uninspired employees how they like working there, they tell me "It sucks" or "It's OK" - or they don't say anything at all.
Small business owners tell me that their “utopia,” their perfect scenario, is great customer service, proactive teamwork, aligned results and high job satisfaction from every team member.
They also tell me that they rarely experience these things from every employee. A few employees demonstrate one or two of these desired practices, but not everyone at once, consistently.
This desired “utopia” remains out of reach for most small businesses.
When I ask small business owners what they spend their time and energy on each day, 90 percent of them tell me they spend 90 percent of their time and energy on results.
That’s a lot of entrepreneurs spending a lot of time on results but this relentless focus on results is not creating the desired utopia. Small business owners need to change it up! They need to shift their focus.
Entrepreneurs need to spend as much time and energy focused on how their business is operating as they do on how their business is performing. Both are important - but workplace culture rarely receives the same attention from small business owners as results.
Here’s the reality: when your business culture -- the quality of your work environment -- demonstrates mutual trust, respect and dignity in every interaction among and between team leaders and members, workplace inspiration happens. That desired utopia happens, consistently.
The thing is, a safe and inspiring work environment doesn’t happen naturally. Peter Drucker, the management guru, said the only thing that happens naturally in organizations is anger, frustration, and fear. We don’t want that.
Workplace inspiration only happens with intention and by design. High performing, values-aligned cultures require careful planning, coaching and tending by business owners, every day.
What kinds of things should business owners do to boost their team’s spirit, service, and results? Some great insights can be found in a 2013 engagement study by TINYpulse. Over 40,000 responses from more than 300 global organizations contributed to their research. TINYpulse found seven vital trends that small business owners can learn from and use to refine their daily behaviors and boost employee engagement. Four of these trends are:
1. The overwhelming majority (82 percent) of respondents say that their manager has clearly outlined their role and responsibilities. That’s a good thing, and it’s what we’d expect when business owners focus so much on results.
2. Only 42 percent of respondents know their organization’s vision, mission and values. That means nearly 60 percent of employees are operating daily without a clear understanding of their company’s purpose and values. In the absence of clear values, politics, power and control are the norm.
3. Transparency is the top factor when determining employee happiness. This doesn’t cost owners and managers anything but time to engage in dialog with employees to communicate what’s coming, what’s happening and what’s important, every day.
4. Team play and collaboration are the top traits employees love about their co-workers. These will only occur in a safe, trusting environment.
Small business owners get the right culture by clarifying expectations for both values and performance.
I coach clients to be specific about the values and performance they want through an organizational constitution, a formal statement of your team or company’s purpose, values and behaviors, strategies and goals. These expectations help make the health of your work environment as important as company performance.
With an organizational constitution in place, you’ll have clear standards for values as well as clear standards for performance. Aligning team leaders and team member’s plans, decisions and actions to these standards becomes a matter of living and modeling them daily, observing them daily and coaching them daily.