This article is for those business owners who want to squeeze every dollar from their business. One of the most overlooked parts of a business are the employees, especially in the large companies. It is not as sexy as going after more sales (which is also important) but it is fundamental to have your whole team rowing in the same direction.
As companies get bigger and people get busier a separation between the employees and management will grow if you are not proactive. In many cases the employees will feel (notice I say feel and not think, it is an important distinction) that management does not care about them. On the flip side, management will begin to think that the employees are lazy (or some version of this).
As a manager, you have to take time to be a leader. It is your responsibility to break this separation between you and the employees. There are many ways to do this, but one of the simplest is periodically do the same work they are doing. You will not be very good at the job, but they will respect you for it.
Another option is to eat lunch with the employees. At first it may be awkward, but you will see that they warm up to you and you will get receive insight to your business. This is also an opportunity to see your overachievers a little more clearly (they are typically the ones that are trying to learn from you).
The next piece of the puzzle is transparency. The employees can tell if there is something going on in the company. They may not know what it is, but the rumors will start to fly. This makes your employees think you are hiding something and they will lose trust in you; they will no longer follow you as a leader. I realize that you cannot tell them everything, but they need to understand the business. This will also break the separation, mentioned before, because they will feel like part of the team. In some cases they may even have solutions to the problems. This also gives them a chance to see what you do.
In some cases it is important to be professional, but when you relate to your team you do not want them to think you are different or better than them. In many cases you do not want to be too professional when interacting with your employees. This goes back to the separation I mentioned before. You want them to feel they understand where you are coming from. Be willing to talk to them about their weekends, tell some jokes, get your hands dirty, and sweat a little.
I will continue this in the next post (this is getting a little long)