One of the most important things a CEO or Director can do on a day to day basis is keeping her staff motivated. A business can be likened to a vehicle, where the staff constitute the moving parts of the engine, if you don’t take care of it, you won’t go anywhere, no matter how expert a driver you are as CEO or Director. In F1 right now we have an ex-world champion who finds himself (I say him as at the time of writing sadly there have not been any female world champion racing drivers) literally drivings the wheels off the car, but the engine fails. Business is just like that. A CEO can have such a tight grip on the wheel that she doesn’t think to take care of the engine. What can she do, after all, she is upfront steering the machine, she just wants to know it all “works” under the bonnet.
For start-ups, this is less of an issue as often the team is very small and the CEO is part of the engine, but as the business grows the CEO becomes more detached and it’s then that her staff feels less valued and churn becomes a problem.
So how do we help our staff feel valued? Firstly, we must pay them fairly, it doesn’t have to be over the odds, but does need to be a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Secondly, we must listen, they are down there in the engine room and perhaps have a better feel for certain things you can’t see. If they believe you are listening and can see you taking action (not all the time of course) but enough of the time, they will know that their opinion is valued. If appropriate allow the person who brought the issue to your attention to take charge of any action required, this further enhances their feeling of worth to the company. And of course, if it was an extraordinary contribution perhaps consider rewarding them with a bonus of sorts. In the armed forces, we often award medals to personnel who go above and beyond, we don’t give them something of great monetary value, but we do give them recognition and an award that may well help them in their later career. The same applies in business, being given more responsibility (while not cause an overstressing of workload) or publicly acknowledging their contribution at an annual awards dinner, is key to keeping your staff happy.
Another way to reward staff that shouldn’t cost you too much is allowing them to spend more quality time with their families and friends. Millennials are the “experience” generation, they value their time and experiences, so reward them with the things that matter to them, not just money. And that doesn’t just go for your younger staff members, older members enjoy recognition but perhaps the type of experiences they seek is a little different.
So, take the time to listen, reward extraordinary behaviour, build your teams by providing experiences, and allow staff to spend quality time with their loved ones (that could even mean allowing them to work from home once a week, seeing their kids come in from school). We’ll talk more about the benefits of home working at a later date (and some of the pitfalls to avoid when granting it to your staff).