Over the years and through the course of working with 100+ companies, we at ECS have watched some select, great leaders effectively drive their business and deliver fantastic results.
These leaders routinely exceed revenue goals and achieve double digit growth with similar profitability levels. And perhaps even more impressively, the employees of these companies really enjoy working with these leaders, which results in near non-existent turnover (which is especially noteworthy when the average employee lasts only 17 months with a company today, as per the Department of Labor, April 2019).
AND, all of this happens in companies where guiding great culture seems effortless – and these companies don’t have a foosball table or endless amounts of free snacks!
What gives? How is it possible for this to happen, when all we hear is how hard it is to retain good employees and achieve the next level of goals?
The answer is these successful leaders EMPOWER their people. And I mean truly EMPOWER them to internally drive new concepts and challenge their direct managers – all while externally taking care of clients on the spot.
These types of leaders almost always deliver outstanding results. Look no further then companies like Zappos, Koch Industries and Google. They empower their team while holding them accountable to drive the business and push the norms. You’ll never hear “That’s the way we’ve always done it” coming from the lips of any of these leaders’ team members.
[A note: if you are looking for a good read on the topic, try Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, as it will give you insight on how Bill Campbell helped empower people Google and other successful companies.]
I’ve been able to synthesize what these leaders do well as they build an empowered team into four key components:
1. Build and communicate your vision – This is your main function as a business leader. If your team doesn’t know where you (and they!) are headed, these employees won’t drive your business in the right direction (or worse yet, they’ll all go in different directions).
Don’t forget that vision is dynamic, is always evolving and requires some explanation and support from you all along the way. And please also remember that “vision” is not a forgettable mission statement that was flashed up on the overhead screen at your company’s annual January kick-off meeting. Everyone forgot about that long ago.
2. Hire well – I know this sounds like a “Duh!” statement, but too many companies don’t take the time to develop the role for which they are hiring, or understanding who they actually want to hire.
For this very reason, ECS suggests using Predictive Index as part of the hiring process to understand who you’re hiring and how they’ll best integrate into your team. Be sure you’re hiring a person who will, in fact, assimilate seamlessly into your team and deliver needed results.
3. Empower – Your employees OWN a part of your business – and you should demand that they own it! That means trusting them to get done the things, and having faith that they are both able to make solid decisions and are ultimately responsible for moving their own needles.
We like instituting the Objectives & Key Results model (Measure what Matters – by John Doerr) to help business leader build dynamic plans that align to the organization’s overall vision. If you empower your people, they will deliver awesome results for you every day!
4. Recognize and Reward – Great leaders recognize good work on the spot – and do so publicly. Make sure your management adopts this approach and gives feedback on excellent, noteworthy behavior and actions alongside the constructive feedback.
And, be sure to reward great work generously. I’m not talking a $10 Subway gift card – instead think raises, bonuses and promotions. It’s a good thing if you’re paying a premium for a terrific employee. You’re getting amazing results that translate into better profitability in the long run.
Follow these four principles and this will lead to the creation of a culture that people will want to join. Even in markets that are short on talent (which is much of the United States today), the best-run companies have a waiting list of people who want to join.
Ultimately, these companies are successful because of their people. As Dave Bookbinder tell us in Return on Individuals – “people are truly the most important asset of the business.”
Want to chat about growing and driving your business, reach out to me and we can talk about your goals and share how ECS transforms companies to top performers. Bill Morrow – Managing Partner – firstname.lastname@example.org.