One of the most common challenges all business owners face is how to get the best out of their team. What we (unsurprisingly) want is productive, happy and loyal workers. But how can this be achieved? Should you use the stick, the carrot – a combination of the two? Or throw them both out and try something different?
Before I set up GingerComms five years ago, I had had my share of bosses who used different methods to get the most out of their team.
Carrot not stick
Coming from a sales background, targets were the norm, yet at times they felt punitive rather than encouraging – there was the sense that if they weren't met, there'd be trouble, not a reward.
I found that this had a detrimental effect on both my team and me. The running-scared work approach was not one that got the best out of people in my experience. Fearing reprisals doesn't motivate people, it makes them resentful and that is definitely not the best foundation for creativity and productivity.
So when I started to recruit, I wanted to create an entirely different landscape, setting targets that would incentivise rather than penalise, and allowing my employees to flourish and develop in their roles.
Key in my mind was creating a fun, hardworking and team-focussed workforce that was still sales and targets driven, but I wanted to bring out the best in my people.
I'm not a nine-to-five, bums on seats kind of boss, and I know how important work/life balance is to people. So one of the key incentives I offer my staff is being able to work one day from home a week. With 15 of us in one office all the time, and the fast pace of the work we do, it can get a bit intense, so having the time to work from the comfort of your own home helps the team carve out some space and time. It also shows them that I trust them implicitly – I don't have to see them work to know they are doing a good job.
I also have several team members based outside the office who work primarily from home. And I'm happy for the team to work flexibly when needed, for example when they need to juggle childcare and work.
I'm proud to say that, after five years, no one has ever walked away from the company, and the team often feels more like family than employees.
Here are my five top tips to get the most from your team:
1) Incentivise don't penalise. Set targets that will yield rewards for your staff. This will mean they work hard for you without being in the shadow of potentially losing their jobs if they don't hit them.
2) Be proactively positive. Don't let negativity creep into the workplace, as it is so easy for a few demoralising comments to snowball into a bigger issue pitting staff against each other and harming the wider working environment.
3) Be accessible. As a boss, it’s really important to work alongside everyone, roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty at times. I don't mind getting up at 6am for coverage updates for our clients, and I’m happy to muck in on sell ins. This sets an example for the wider team – be someone you'd like to work for yourself.
4) Keep people interested – come up with new ideas and listen to your staff’s ideas – and let people run with them. Incentives don’t always mean tangible rewards like bonuses, they can also take the form of giving staff members the opportunity to work on a pet project. This can motivate people to go above and beyond their daily tasks.
5) Listen. As leaders we have to create an open environment where the team understands that they own part of the relationship and have the freedom to contribute to it. Feeling autonomous and being heard is really important to people’s job satisfaction levels.
Written by Harriet Scott, founder and MD of agency GingerComms
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