Unless you are the only employee in your business, you will eventually run into this issue. There are times in a business when it would be very difficult to not be excited. Grand openings, appreciation parties, killer sales months, hitting new landmarks within the company, etc. all help to keep employees soaring high.
But what happens when there is a slow month? What about three slow months in a row? All of a sudden, there is a lot of employee turmoil or unrest among the ranks? It’s a lot easier to be a pleasant boss when the numbers are good, the rent is paid, payroll is accounted for and you enjoy the team you have in place.
What do you do when the excitement of owning a business wears off? All you can think about is ripping your hair off and running off to a deserted island and your employees can see and feel your tension. They start to see the dark circles around your eyes, the worry in your face and the lack of enthusiasm coming off of you when you go into the office. They become worried about the stability of their job, their sense of security dwindles and before long they are using their lunch breaks to look for a new gig.
How do you turn that around?
1. Top Down…It Starts with You
I completely understand how it feels to have a business sucking the life right out you. Even if business is financially going well, they take a lot of time and energy. I think one of the biggest things the owner or boss can do is everyday when they are in front of or around their employees is to put on their happy face. You need to wipe the RBF off, drink some coffee and put your big boy or big girl pants on. Employees cannot see the captain of their ship faltering. When the leaders have it together (even if just on the surface) that will help inspire and build trust with the rest of the team.
2. Communication…the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I am have always been very open about the health and status of the business. All the employees know the numbers needed for growth, their bonuses, how much rent is, etc. Especially if they are tied into bonuses, why shouldn’t employees be allowed to know the numbers they need to hit and where the business is at any given time? I’ve known others who were literally going out of business and waited until two days before to tell their key employees.
I started giving “status” reports at a minimum of once a week. It doesn’t matter what your metrics are for the business, daily/weekly/monthly posting of them won’t leave any employee in the dark. If the numbers are good that’s exciting and if they aren’t then everyone knows what they need to work on. Surprises in this area never turn out good.
3. Get FeedBack
I did this in our last meeting. We have made some changes to our operations and wanted to know their opinion of some different ways of how we could make everyone feel more connected and more confident in what we are doing. I was amazed at the amount of ideas they had. Later after the meeting, I had one employee reach out and thanked me for making them feel heard and included. The benefit was two-fold: one the employees at the meeting felt like their voice and opinions matter (which they do & helps morale) plus it will help simplify our new procedures that we put into place.
4. Be a Good Finder
This is my favorite one. Always be on the lookout for positive or well-done things that an employee is doing. I know it can be hard sometimes and definitely easier to focus on the negative qualities all the time. People also need to feel safe around you and know that if they do screw up (heck we all do) that mistakes are ok. Generally, as the boss you are always on the hunt for something that was done well or you appreciate them doing. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when an employee will need to be written up, re-trained or fired but overall, try and reinforce the behavior you want more of.
Who doesn’t love the opportunity to make more money?
When implementing a bonus structure, this is where #2 about communication is going to be key. Nothing will lower morale more than not knowing what the target is, changing the target or not be honest about how bonuses work.