When working to grow their companies, entrepreneurs often overlook a valuable resource: their employees. “Many business owners regard their IP, products, real estate holdings, and equipment as their greatest assets,” says Frank Goley of ABC Business Consulting. “Unfortunately, employees come way down the list — and sometimes don’t even make the top 10. This is a huge oversight and a huge waste.”
Here are a three tips for making sure you maximize your staff’s potential while expanding your operations.
Look beyond immediate needs. Rather than just hiring people who have the experience you need to run your business, look for employees who have other helpful skills, even if these talents seem unrelated at the time. For example, Goley used his internet-marketing background to help his employer develop related new offerings for clients.
Empower people to speak up. When employees know that their ideas and suggestions will be heard, they are more likely to think creatively on the company’s behalf. Make employees feel like they’re a part of your team by inviting them to regular brainstorming meetings and maintaining an open-door policy. Let them know that if they want to acquire more skills to promote company growth, you’ll consider footing part of the bill (provided that they agree to stay for a predetermined time period, of course).
Reward innovation and creativity. Employees won’t be motivated to help the company grow if they don’t reap any of the rewards. Share your success. For example, you might promote an innovative employee by making her the head of the new department she helped inspire. Or offer her a loftier title and a salary increase. When people see that you appreciate and value their support, they’re more motivated to contribute.
“Employees — if well trained and cared for, if stimulated and challenged, if respected and sought after — can bring huge innovation, find great opportunities, and cause sustained company growth,” Foley says. “Companies that understand this invest heavily in them, and the return is a better ROI than any advertisement, marketing campaign, or sales ploy that a company can cook up.”