While visiting a construction company I met with some of the employees and it struck me that they didn’t know much about the company they worked for. They didn’t know the company goals or why the company was in business. They were there for a paycheck and nothing else really mattered.
Let me offer a quote from Lee J. Colan: “Without a compelling cause, our employees are just putting in time. Their minds might be engaged, but their hearts are not. Meaning precedes motivation.”
Right on the nose. I remember working in a variety of trades during my younger years and rarely did any of my fellow employees think about the business we were working for: what it did, for whom, and how they could make it better. Their focus was on what was in their lunch pail, what toy or gadget they were going to buy next, problems with their vehicles, and the best watering hole when we got paid. Have things changed?
If you want your employees to be motivated, you need to give their jobs meaning.
Schedule a meeting to bring everyone up to speed. Have a written agenda so that you stick to the subject. An agenda keeps a meeting short and productive, which is important because no one wants to be punished with a long-winded rambling meeting. Since you’ll be paying for their time, you don’t want to waste it. Be sure to include food.
The purpose of the meeting is to outline how you see your company. Who is your ideal customer? What type of work do you prefer to do? How do you get the two together? Where do you want the company to be in one year, three years or even five years? Explain how they fit into the whole picture and why they and the job they’re doing is important.
My father was a business owner and that might be the case with many of you. We grew up understanding business, it was discussed at the dinner table regularly. But there are a lot of young people without that experience and who don’t understand what business is about. They’ve heard that profit is a dirty word, corporations are bad, and employers only care about themselves. They don’t realize that if the company they work for isn’t profitable, it’ll go out of business and leave them looking for another job with a company that is profitable.
That’s why it would also be good to go over the basics of profitability. I don’t agree with opening your company books to employees because that’s proprietary information. But they need to know that selling a job for $100,000 doesn’t mean you get to put $100,000 in your pocket. They also need to be aware that when they make mistakes, the cost of making things right comes out of the company pockets.
This is a good chance to go over the basic expectations you have, such as:
- showing up on time
- keeping the job clean
- being polite to everyone
- no loud electronics
I think you should also explain how they can help promote the company. Have personalized business cards printed for every employee who has been with you for at least 30 days and ask them to hand out one card a day. If they generate a lead, they should get a bonus of $10-50; whatever you think is appropriate. If that lead turns into a sale, they deserve more, 1-2 percent of the sales price. Whatever gets rewarded, gets repeated.
Will everyone buy in? That depends on your ability to communicate with your employees. But some will and that makes it worth trying. Give your employees a purpose and a cause. Both your bottom line and their morale will benefit.
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