What Have You Done Today to…
What have you done today to invest in your team? What have you done today to inspire your team? These two questions are the focus of today’s blog. These questions are similar, but there are key differences between investing in and inspiring your team. However, both are crucial to the success of your business, your relationship with employees and co-workers, and the impressions that the people you work with will have of you and your company. Whether you run a small business with fewer than ten employees or you manage a team of dozens, there are important concepts to remember as you interact with those around you.
Investing in Your Team
Let’s start to unpack what it means to invest in your team. We’ll address this topic twice, once from the perspective of the business owner or leader and once from the perspective of the employee. This will allow us to understand the two sides of the transaction that occurs when investing in your leadership. The word transaction might sound impersonal and crude here, but as a leader it is important to remember that transaction is a factor in the hiring and employment of anybody. You are offering a salary in exchange for their time, labor, or ideas. When you invest in your team, you are choosing to put more energy, resources, and time into that employee relationship. Whether you’re offering a simple “How’s it going?” in the morning or sending them to business school at night, you are offering something in hopes that it will lighten their mood, build a personal relationship, or sharpen their skills.
While there is a transactional nature to any exchange between employer and employee, it is vital that you do not view everything as such. There is a difference between knowing the underlying currents of the relationship and making those currents the focus of every interaction. While they are employees getting something from and giving something to you, they are also people. Make sure that you are taking the time to treat them as such. Give them spaces to talk and to connect with you and one another. Camaraderie is an important factor in any workplace environment, people are much likelier to continue working somewhere if they can connect and relate to the people around them.
As a business owner or leader, it is your responsibility to foster both the transactional and the interpersonal relationship between yourself and your employees. Invest in them so that they can yield greater returns in their work, but also invest in them because they are people and as a leader you are poised to help them grow whether they stay with you till retirement or not.
Rounding Out Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Part of investing in your team relies on creating a team around you worth investing in. As a leader, you must have a valid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. What skills do you have that are vital to your business and industry? What skills don’t you have that are vital to your business and industry. The objective isn’t to create carbon copy employees of yourself, but to assemble a team that covers each other’s faults and gives each other’s strengths a platform to grow on. The larger your team becomes, the more strengths and weakness you must either pull from or round out.
When investing in your team it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. What can you be doing to help them overcome weaknesses or to take their strengths even further? Sharpening your employees not only helps them as individuals, but it helps create a greater overall strength for your team. When you invest in one of them in a business or technical manner, you are investing in all of them. However, it is important to provide these opportunities and investments to employees across the board because a sense that everyone is being taken care of is a great morale booster and encourages your employees to further invest themselves in your company and their role within it.
Creating a Collaborative Environment
How can you invest in your employees without direct input or effort on your part? We touched on it in the last section, but part of creating a well-rounded team is crafting an internal system of checks, balances, and support. Encouraging employees to invest in each other is a crucial component of a healthy and a successful work environment. Who on your team can be a resource or mentor for other employees? Who can translate skills to the rest of the team? Who are the people who are good to know and to learn from? What can the younger people learn from the older? What trends are the younger people closer to that the older people may be ignoring.
Collaboration allows individuals on your team to tap into and pool resources from the collective strength of your organization. It allows ideas to be heard, plans to be drafted, and voice to feel like they have a space in which to speak. Encouraging your team to connect with and invest in each other is a great way to set your workplace apart from every other. Sometimes the people that you already have on board are an asset when hiring new employees. Getting into the room and having a seat at the table with others in their field can be a very attractive enticement to members of your team. Make sure to take advantage not only what you have to offer and how it can impact your team, but also to what the team can do to invest in each other.
How Do You Inspire?
Investment is an easier process in which to gauge the transactional nature of a business relationship. Inspiration, however, isn’t always as obvious. What you are doing to inspire may not be as deliberate, often it is a habit that your team sees you follow, or an attitude that you project. It might be a throw away advice that is the best you can offer at that moment, but that sticks with that person for the rest of their life.
When people think of being inspirational, they often think of dramatic moments in history or speakers preaching advice from a massive stage. Yet more often than not, inspiration comes from merely being intentional and direct with the people around us. What goals are you setting for yourself and your team? How are you rewarding goals met and especially goals exceeded? Are you making yourself visible, both in triumph and defeat? Is communication open between yourself and those under you?
If you want to inspire your team, you need to let them see you. You must also seek to connect with them, to get to know them and let them get to know you. They cannot be inspired if they do not know what you are doing. Closed doors don’t inspire anyone but to leave.
What Are Your Employees Seeing?
What are your employees seeing? Is it a closed door with mumbles on the other side? Are they seeing open doors and open communication? Are you actively seeking to inspire them and to invest in them as individuals? What are you doing to help them meet their personal goals in addition to the goals you’ve set for them? Whatever your employees perceive will become their reality. Make sure that you are taking the time and effort to invest in and inspire them. If they perceive that you care and that you have a vested interest in them even if they left your company tomorrow, that perceived feeling will become their reality.