Each time I present the asset portion of our Building Business Acumen course one of the participants will usually suggest, “in our company people are our greatest asset." I will usually push back to determine how strong their conviction is and will find the class as a whole defending their colleague’s expression in adamant agreement.
After multiple experiences such as this, I find myself contemplating two questions on this topic. First, why is this important for our employees to feel like valued contributors, “our greatest assets,' and second, what are some basic business acumen principles that help to establish this type of culture.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES TO FEEL LIKE OUR GREATEST ASSET?
First, when employees feel as though they are engaged and contributing to the overall success of the organization their intrinsic drive will motivate them to build greater competencies and skills, become more productive, and create an environment ripe for success.
Second, this environment nurtures the desire to succeed. No one is walking into work thinking, “I hope I stink it up today”. Employees want to do a good job. They want the autonomy to make decisions that add value; they want to be in control of their success, and they want to feel a connection to the team and the cause. Engaged cultures breed individual and organizational success.
Finally, business leaders have not had to worry as much about retention during the last few years. Employees for the most part have been grateful to have a job (as we recover from the great recession though this may change). Employees that question their value or ability to contribute will begin to exit and move to other opportunities. Business may loose strong employees all because they do not feel as though they are successfully contributing to the overall success of the company.
THREE BEST PRACTICES FOR ENGAGEMENT CULTURE
So, what do business leaders do to build a valued contributor culture? How do these leaders help their employees feel like they are the company’s “greatest asset?"
First, trust your employees—When a leader exhibits trust in the employee the employee develops confidence, which produces better performance. When an employee feels as though they are not trusted, they doubt their performance and they're fearful of making mistakes, thus decreasing performance. Trust requires a business leader to let go of control and allow for autonomy. It is a must for business to succeed.
Second, recognize employee contribution—Leaders are often pretty good at identifying when things have gone wrong. Work to identify those things that are going right. Never forget that most of the time employees are doing things right, recognize it!
Finally, include employees in decision making—As a leader increases employee involvement in the business, employee commitment to the success of that business increases. Great leaders recognize that they may not have all of the answers and see the value of including others in business decisions.
In the final analysis, employees are the greatest assets for any company. Although cliché, the more a leader recognizes and works to reinforce the expression, the greater the company will succeed.