“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” — Anne M. Mulcahy
Businesses are kind of like families. A business where everyone takes orders from the boss and never questions him or her in any way may work, but it’s not the most successful model out there. Families like this do exist as well, but they are usually dysfunctional in some way. This kind of relationship, whether it is between an employee and his or her boss or a child and his or her parents, encourages two distinct personalities to develop. The first personality is the one that is displayed whenever the boss is around — strictly business. The second is their true personality, which comes out around co-workers and at home. This is detrimental because when employees are afraid to show their true personality around the boss, it sets up a dichotomy between the employees and the management. A business is ultimately a team of people working together to make a profit, and if there is a barrier between the employees and the management then the team is not maximizing their potential.
A much better model, then, is to have everybody in the company working together. Like most things in business and life, this is much easier said than done. People have varying opinions, and therefore will want things done different ways, and sometimes an executive decision has to be made. This is absolutely fine, but just ensure that all your employees know that their input is valued. A lot of companies will say this but not actually practice it. If you do actually value your employees’ input, then this builds trust between the management and the employees, and the dichotomy becomes weaker. The end goal is to tear down that wall completely, and create an environment where ideas are not blocked by any unnecessary formalities, allowing them to flow freely and therefore increasing the effectiveness of the company. Here are some ways that can help you go about completing this goal:
Respect autonomy — People work better when they are given their own choice of what to do, within reason. Any decision that can safely be put in the hands of the employee should be given to them.
Make strong connections — Ensure that nobody is left out in the workplace. Feeling lonely is one of the top motivation killers, and it is also easily preventable. Dividing the company into positions, teams, and groups is a common and effective practice.
Handle mistakes more effectively — Everybody makes mistakes, and it should be made clear that if it truly is an honest mistake, then it is to be learned from and not punished for.
Here is a great quote from Thomas J. Watson (past CEO of IBM) about mistakes: “Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”