If you’re in charge of a company with an expanding client base and quick financial growth, it can be easy to forget one key factor of your company’s success — your employees.
No matter how big your brand becomes, your company is nothing without the people who make it run. While it’s easy to think of your business as something that belongs only to you, it’s important to treat your employees as vital contributors to its health.
As the leader of your company, you have to highlight your brand’s big wins in a constructive and inclusive way where everyone involved — from lower to upper management — feels both valued and part of the company’s mission. During periods of rapid growth, especially, your enthusiasm for success should never overshadow the team making it all possible.
These are the people working late to manage more orders, taking customer calls for every misstep, and training each new hire that walks through the door. Without them, responsible growth would be impossible.
Keeping employees invested and engaged during your growing pains takes effort, but what’s worse is allowing them to get left behind. Gathered from my own experience growing a business, here are three tips to keep your team happy and united:
1. Set expectations early.
At Dotcom Distribution, one of the first things I tell every employee I interview or train is this: “I promise you that you will never be bored here, not even for a day.” And, I do not promise them every day will be easy. In my experience, setting expectations early on — for workloads, company culture, benefits, etc. — helps employees remain happy over time. If your team knows what they are agreeing to, they are more likely to remain involved during periods of growth.
One way to establish expectations is through a robust orientation schedule. At the onset of employment, new hires should meet with peers across all departments as well as the leadership team. I encourage my team to not only share what their role is in the company and how they will interact with the new employee, but also to share some personal insights such as family, hobbies, etc. When employees can understand other roles and how their own positions interact across the company, they can feel confident in their contribution and status.
Related: 7 Ways to Create an Inspired Team
2. Communicate often.
Unlike other metrics tracked in your growing company, how often and how well you communicate with your employees is tough and often overlooked. Whereas profits and sales are quantifiable, talking with your team is not. I often ask myself: “What are we doing to communicate on a regular and consistent basis?”
There is no universal communication strategy, because people consume information differently. At Dotcom, we send out a regular newsletter, keep our social media up to date, hold quarterly town halls and hold regular lunches with a small group.
There are also ways to incorporate communication into events that stimulate engagement. Plan a happy hour for an upcoming holiday, or do something more unique, like celebrating Monday instead of Friday. For example, our team tends to host impromptu celebrations ranging from barbecues to work-hours parties such as our event to unveil a new logo. Although these get-togethers seem simple, they create avenues for communication where your team can enjoy the benefits of their hard work.
3. Get to know your employees personally.
As your brand continues to expand, it can become stressful to sacrifice valuable work hours to spend time with your employees. However, during periods of growth, knowing your team personally is important. Employees who feel a direct and genuine connection to upper management will feel a stronger relationship and accountability to their company, too.
Finding the time to build personal relationships starts with setting the time aside. Rather than just saying you will meet with employees, budget real time into your calendar and then stick to it. There are many fun ways to schedule this time. For instance, I like to host monthly feedback lunches. Not only do these lunches give me the chance to learn more about my team in a casual setting — we all share a fun fact about ourselves — but they are also a great opportunity for unfiltered company feedback.
When you incorporate these three tips, your team will naturally grow closer. As work responsibilities grow, bonds created because of company-led initiatives will keep employees invested in your company and engaged in the work they do.
Not only does consistently interacting with your employees build relationships, but it also weeds out the weaker connections. When you create a culture where everybody works together toward the same goal, it’s likely a mutual feeling when it’s not the right fit. By setting expectations early on, it’s relatively easy to tell when an employee’s values and objectives are not aligned with the company’s. Separation becomes natural, and when employees do leave, it’s typically for the right reason — or another sensible opportunity — not because they feel left behind.
There’s never a wrong time to start engaging employees and building out the practices to do so. While you might not be in a state of growth right now, you can only hope that one is just around the corner.