Image by: Quinn Dombrowski
By Judy Willard
Your business has grown enough now to warrant a staff. As you hire, you begin to worry about how your employees will act when you’re not around, and when you are there. You start to consider the qualities you want in an employee.
The number one quality many women entrepreneurs look for in employees is loyalty. A loyal employee will stick with you through the hard times. He or she will not lie or steal from you, and he or she will let you know when someone else is doing so.
Loyal employees are a great way to ensure that your small business thrives, but how do you build and maintain a staff of loyal, trustworthy employees? There are five great ways to ensure your employees will take care of you as you take care of them.
#1) Be Loyal to Them
It is important to show your employees that you are a loyal and trustworthy person. The phrase “lead by example” is not just empty words. Your employees see everything that you do. This means that they see everything that you do for them.
Examples of your loyalty and honesty should begin as early as the interview process. Tell your prospective employees that you are looking to create a tight-knit group and that trust is key in whatever position they have applied for.
To attract people with the same standard of loyalty as you, come up with a few “what would you do” questions concerning loyalty. Make these questions specific to the job and as you consider the answers of your prospective employees, figure out how you would answer the questions.
Choose employees that have similar answers to your own. This will help you create a team of trustworthy and loyal people.
#2) Show Them Respect
Your employees are human beings, not mindless drones. They have feelings, and they work hard. Even if your business is not big enough to offer higher rewards for your employees, you are more likely to keep good employees if you show them that you respect them.
Do not talk down to them or treat them like they are beneath you. Remember, your business is only as good as the staff you maintain. In many small business settings, your employees are the ones on the frontlines. They are communicating with customers (even when the customers are irate).
If an employee comes to you with a problem, listen. Show your employee that you see him or her as a human being. Respecting your employees and what they do for you is a great way to keep them. Of course, if the employee is in the wrong, have a calm discussion on what that employee could have done better.
#3) Show Them You Value Their Work
Everyone wants to know that what they are doing has a purpose. From sales representatives to janitorial staff, all employees should know the importance of the work that they do. You’ve created a position for a reason: you needed this specific job to be done.
Show your employees that you appreciate the hard work that they put in to their jobs. Simple rewards such as “employee of the month” can give your employees the morale to stick with you.
You know that you appreciate your employees, why not show them? By taking the time to say “good job” or even “what would I do without you?” you will show your employees that they are essential to the well-oiled machine that is your business.
If you find yourself straying from giving your employees positive reinforcement, it is time for you to imagine yourself doing their job. Remember what it was like for you before you started your business. Why did you leave your previous job to begin this new adventure? Remember how you were treated by a bad boss. Show your employees how much they mean to you with simple positive (and genuine) feedback, and you will keep them loyal to you.
#4) Treat Them Like Adults
This one is especially true for new employees and if you are bringing in policy changes for veteran employees. When people are learning something new, it can be a little difficult. Remember that you are instituting these new rules or training this new employee, and this person might not know exactly what you are trying to communicate.
Give your employees the chance to learn and try the things you’d like them to do. If they do it wrong, don’t speak slower or get frustrated with them. Pull them in for meetings and tell them what they are doing right and what they could be doing better, and always (always) be open to answering every question.
When your employees have a question concerning policy changes, answer the question in a manner that shows them you value their opinions. Do not simply say “It is what it is, and that is the way you’re going to do it now.” Yes, I’ve had employers say this to me. I felt dismissed, and undervalued.
In order to keep your employees loyal, be sure to treat them like the adults they are. Give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to bad news. Employees are more likely to take bad news better if you are honest and straight with them.
#5) Show Them that You Trust Them
When an employee asks a question about the job, be honest with your answer. Let’s go back to our “policy change” example. In many cases employees (especially veteran employees) can be a little defensive when it comes to policy changes.
If this is the case, remember that a policy change is not just you looking for more money and a more structured work environment. Some of your employees might look at a policy change as a criticism of their work. For this reason, it is important to plan out your policy changes. Ask your employees for suggestions. Show them that you trust their opinions by redesigning your company with their thoughts in mind.
Of course, you don’t have to take all of the suggestions, but it is important to add trust to your work environment.
Creating a strong, trustworthy team is essential for any small business. In order to get the full potential of your employees to surface, you must acknowledge this potential. Lead by example, and be loyal to your employees. Show them that you respect them and value their work. Treat them like adults and trust their opinions. Remember, you want a tight-knit group working for you. You must be a part of that tight-knit group. What are some things you look for in loyal employees? Share with us in the comments below!