“Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.” – Simon Sinek
Regardless of your industry, success can be an elusive force. Everyone wants it, but few achieve it. Some business owners think making money is the end goal. Don’t get me wrong – a financial cushion is nice. But when it’s the sole motivation for you and your employees to wake up and go to work every day, it becomes problematic. Monetary gains should be the reward – not the foundation – for real success.
Real success boils down to one crucial factor: your people. We’re in an economy where 70% of employees are disengaged at work, and millennials, the notorious job-hopping generation, are dominating the workforce. These variables have a huge impact on the productivity and success of businesses big and small.
As a leader, you have the power to mold your business into anything you want. The hardest part is knowing where to start. These five tips are everything you need to prime your business for success:
1. Create a positive, productive culture. Environment has a huge impact on people’s behavior. If an employee feels isolated, underappreciated, or anxious, their performance will suffer. The first decision you have to make is what kind of culture you want to create. For ICON, I wanted to create an environment that people would never want to leave, collaborative, creative and conducive to over achievement. We are stronger as a team than as individuals, and we need that synergy to optimize productivity. Our culture sets us apart from our competitors and makes our business more appealing to top talent.
2. Hire the right people. Once you have established your culture with a definitive mantra and values, you need to find the right people for your team. As a staffing agency, it may seem that we have an unfair advantage when it comes to hiring stellar employees, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: The perfect candidate may not have all the skills in the job description. What really matters is whether they fit the personality of the role. It’s easy for candidates to look good on paper, but if their personality falls flat in person, that’s a red flag. Attitude is typically the number one driver of success, not current skill-set.
3. Engage and empower those people. Once you have the right people on your team, it’s all about getting them to stay with you. Employee loyalty comes from engaging and empowering your people. The best way to do that is to make them feel like their work is important and valued. It’s also critical that they have a confidential communication channel to leadership, so they can make suggestions, and “vent” in a constructive way. Provide incentives and rewards that will make them feel appreciated for their performance. Even something as silly as ringing a cowbell every time an employee closes a deal is enough to stir excitement. When you create an environment where people get consistent feedback and feel that they matter, you’ll see staggering benefits in your business’s success.
4. Promote (healthy) internal competition. Providing incentives and rewards has another inherent benefit: internal competition. Not that you want an office brawl on your hands, but a healthy dose of competitive spirit pushes your employees to perform their best—and beyond. When everyone makes individual performance a top priority, it’s a boost for the whole business. Competition makes work more fun but also, and perhaps most importantly, makes every employee accountable for collective success.
5. Aspire to inspire. As a business owner, everything you say and do sets an example. You are a role model for your employees and the ultimate representation for how others perceive your company. No pressure, right? You need to be a leader who inspires others to lead. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but a good place to start is by being honest with yourself and your team about the company’s strengths and weaknesses. What sets leaders apart from the rest is the courage to confront their problems. In fact, adversity is the very thing that defines leadership. If we lived in a perfect world where everything was uncomplicated and effortless, there would be no need for leaders. Our weaknesses fuel our progress. Remember, no great success story comes without challenges.
Success comes to those with the right priorities. Businesses that make money their ultimate goal will miss out on the profound, sustaining benefits that real success offers. What matters most is the happiness of your employees and your ability to inspire it.