Owning a startup is a dream for many of us. Unfortunately, it’s the dream of the founders, and not the employees. In order to scale up a company successfully, you need the employees on-board — sharing the same passion, vision and accountability as if they too are the founder. This article will go over some of the ways you can create a culture that will foster employee engagement.
First and foremost, strong leadership starts with a vision. Having a clear vision that is shareable is important, but you must be able to communicate it too. A good way to do this is by creating an emotional attachment to the vision, which will really help ingrain it in the employees’ minds. As long as it’s genuine and concise, all you need to do is frequently remind them of the vision and communicate it in a passionate way.
Telling them the vision is not enough. You must be able to trust that they can and will endeavour to follow you on achieving it. Feeling valued and important to the company is the single most motivating thing for an employee. Without trusting them, how are they going to trust you? This means stepping back from micromanaging them, and instead letting them have a little bit of responsibility, initiative and creativity. It’s worth keeping in mind that your employees will likely know more about that role by now than you do — this is one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to accept.
The company vision is an overarching set of values and ambition. What’s also necessary though is short-term SMART goals to set the company. This means that employees can really get hands on with hitting KPIs and targets, and the more frequently they do, the more their value in the company is being reinforced. Just having a 10-year vision can be difficult to achieve, unless it’s met with frequent smaller goals.
Achieving the company vision and micro goals might be enough for you, but it’s not enough for employees. They want to simultaneously achieve their own vision and goals. This means giving them the freedom and tools to train, learn and develop. Not only do they want to become better at their job, but they may have a specific career direction in mind. Allowing them to switch departments, rotate jobs and so on is a great way to keep your best employees from moving to another company. If they really feel although they can achieve anything in your company, they will stick with it and become extremely motivated towards your company vision.
As we are becoming increasingly aware, employees like to feel valued. The last thing that’s left then is to give them direct and frequent access to customer feedback. For example, if you’re designing an item for your company’s marketing campaign, then remind them of the success it has afterwards.The issue is that as a founder, you’re extremely busy and you may not be able to spot this hard work. Letting customers’ reaction do this for you is a great way to motivate employees, and remind them of what they’re doing is important.
Having an engaged employee culture is necessary for startups to scale successfully. In these fragile times, employee turnover needs to be low and you likely don’t have the resources to keep hiring and training new staff.