Are you using all of your small business assets? In fact, your employees may be the strongest resources a small business has: team players who actually work in “the trenches.” Businesses often fail to engage employees who may actually have the best solutions to business challenges.

A company that discourages employees from offering suggestions is a company that is missing out on a valuable resource – the men and women who actually handle the minutia of the job. People actually doing the job may know the challenges they face more clearly than you do.

Ask them for help.

Most employees want to help. However, if operational decisions exclude the employees working the factory floor or the front desk, employees won’t offer suggestions that could actually benefit the company. Recognize that in many cases, employees know more than you do about a procedure or operating system. Solicit input from all stakeholders in any decision you make. You can develop projections, collate metrics, and study the numbers for weeks and not learn the basic issues employees face each day.

Trust them to make good decisions

Employees empowered to make decisions at the most basic level are more likely to develop innovative solutions that can boost productivity and margins. Give your employees latitude in making the decisions that affect them. Review each suggestion, determine that it does, indeed, make sense, and implement the solution. Make every employee a stakeholder.

Don’t micromanage or disappear.

Micromanaging every little detail of workplace activity is a morale buster. Employees feel you’re looking over their shoulders. You show a lack of trust. On the other hand, employees don’t want you to hand out assignments and then disappear behind a closed office door. Make the effort to strike a balance using prudent oversight. Provide written descriptions of what employees can and cannot decide on their own, make yourself accessible, monitor progress, but don’t micromanage or vanish.

Praise the team loudly.

If an employee makes a contribution, make sure credit is given where it’s due. If an employee finds a solution, don’t take credit for the fix. Make sure employees recognize your appreciation and reward innovative employees with incentives that motivate the entire staff.

Keep employees in the loop.

Create office transparency so employees see what you’re doing and you see what they’re doing. It’s important to keep employees informed about managerial activity. Be honest, be straightforward, be thoughtful of employee needs. This is the best way to dismantle the break room rumor mill.

Treat your staff like human beings.

Even if you have hundreds of employees, someone in your office should track birthdays so cards can be sent to employees as a sign of appreciation. Accept that life happens and sometimes an employee has a family obligation that takes precedence over coming to work that day. Be understanding of the needs of your team.

Play by the same rules employees follow.

If the office opens at 8:00 AM, arrive on time. If the staff has to come in on a Saturday, be there with pizza for lunch. If the team works late, you should be the last one out the door. Employees will grumble much less about extra work or new procedures when they see you following the new rules and working shoulder to shoulder to get the job done.

Your employees are a valuable source of information – if you create a corporate culture that encourages employee participation at all levels. Employees who contribute to business success can be one of your strongest business resources.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.