Definition: a person or thing that leads. A guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group. – Websters
Recently, while thinking of ways to better myself and my business, I decided to Google the term “Becoming a leader” and the search provided an amazing 48,800,000 results. WOW! It would take a really long time to read through all this, so I began thinking of my own experiences. Although I have only been in business for myself for a year, I have experienced a great deal in my 15 years in the work force. Unfortunately, I have seen more bad than good and it’s a sad reminder of how far we still need to go as humans. My experiences have left me with knowledge of how I would not like to treat employees and what I believe will produce the best results when employing people. By no means am I promising a magic solution to employment retention, but I have found a few key elements that seem to work really well and I want to make sure you have these tidbits I like to call jewels.
Employees are Assets
Treating an employee as an asset is typically the furthest from a manager’s mind. Actually, they are sometimes thought of as a “number” or a “liability”. If you are examining a balance sheet or performing payroll I would tend to agree with you, every employee is a number as well a liability. But when your balance sheet becomes part of your vocabulary, and employees are referred to as replaceable, there’s a fine line that has been crossed and problems will begin to occur. Resentment fuels the desire to sabotage and eventually quit. No one wants that. So what do you do? Well, know this. Everyone wants to know they have value. Not only in business, but in life. It is a fact, we spend one third of our lives working. Why not you as the owner create an environment that makes it the most enjoyable time of their life! Talk with them about where they see themselves in the next six months or year. What do they like to do? Fish, hunt, golf, etc.. Basically, get to know them and see how close the business goals are to there’s.
Create and Adhere to Strict Guidelines
Although I believe strongly in the way an employee is viewed and treated, I equally believe that there are guidelines that must be followed and adhered to. If not, then it disrupts the flow of owner to employee relations and some employees may even find themselves thinking you’re a push over. That is why you should immediately put in place a set of guidelines for the business. Your guidelines should encompass areas such as proper procedures for performing service, van cleanliness, client interaction, language, attire, etc. Make sure each employee is properly trained on these guidelines and two copies of the document printed. One for them to keep for reference and one for them to sign and return back to you. The signed agreement should be placed in their personal file. The guidelines also help to establish a baseline for them to follow, and shows that you will not accept anything less. Lastly, its equally important that you follow these guidelines as well. When everyone is on the same page, taking your business to the next level of growth becomes easier to accomplish.
If you were like me I started this business with enthusiasm beyond control. The world was (and still is) my oyster and all I needed to do was make it happen. I had pinpoint accurate purpose. Everyone wants to have that level of purpose in the job they perform each day. That’s what makes it worth getting up every morning at 4am, or going after the business that said “check with me next week” for the fourth time, or cleaning the van and machine after a 60 to 70 hour week. The same applies to your techs. They look to you for not only guidance, training, etc. but direction into the future. No one likes to take a road trip that has no destination……do they? I adhere to a quarterly meeting with my team. We meet first thing in the morning on Saturday around 7am. It is mandatory and they do get paid and feed. I keep them for about 1 hour. I figure my cost to do all this is around $50. That is a drop in the bucket when it compares to time spent replacing a tech.
These guys you call technicians are no different from us when it comes to exhaustion. They are not robots (although at times I wish they were), they are humans also carrying with them emotions and feelings. I’m by no means asking you to have a kumbaya session each week around the family campfire with them, but I am asking that you be thoughtful of what they are going through. It wasn’t too long ago that I ran all the services and demos. 20 hours a week quickly became 50 to 60. At times I was physically shot and my emotions were less than desirable (ask my wife). This job is hot and dirty, especially in the summer months in the South. Ouch! So be considerate.
Show your Worth
Allow your employees the opportunity to show their worth. I know for a fact that if managers would stop micromanaging their employees they would see a better product. Most people want the opportunity to excel and be the best they can be. But they have to be given the opportunity. As a owner/manager take the time and listen to what your team has to offer. Sometimes they are totally off, but other times they may provide some serious value. Take everything said into consideration and decide if it can provide value to your business. Let your team help you be a leader in environmental kitchen solutions.
Be a Servant
Last but not least, serve. Serve not only your employees, but your community. Sure you can make a lot of money and sit back and receive a check, but what about your duty as a citizen of the human race? We are all here for not only our own purpose but the purpose of others. Although that may sound deep, its true. We have the responsibility to assist others in their time of need, to educate, and the list continues. Things that you can do include charities, teaching, helping at a shelter, etc. one activity I took on this year involves teaching at a local school once a week. It’s a fantastic opportunity to speak with younger people who want to be successful in business. Another involved a shoe collection for the people in Haiti. My family and I went around and asked neighbors and friends to give their shoes as well a dollar for each pair given. This in no way is intended to boast or brag about my accomplishments but an opportunity to empower you and see that it is the little things in life we do that make such a massive difference to others. Reflect on this quote and see what you can do tomorrow for others.
“Life is a place of service. Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.” ~ Leo Tolstoy