Yes, employees appreciate and want a certain level of autonomy but remember, they are employees, they still look to management for guidance and direction so it’s important you post your vision, communicate your vision and make sure everyone understands and follows your vision. Once you do this, you can stop micromanaging and get out of the way and watch the magic happen. When people understand and embrace where the company is going, they’ll figure out the best path to get it there in the most efficient manner.

Ask for Your Employees Opinions and Then Let Them Know Their Opinions Matter

When your employees believe their opinions matter, they then know they matter. When they know they matter, magical things happen.

Learn to Listen and Read Between the Lines

When employees speak about the company, they should be using words like “we” and “us.” If not, they are not identifying with being “a part of the company.” Find out why and immediately correct the situation.

Take Your Time When Making Hiring Decisions

Hiring the right people is probably the single most important decision an entrepreneur makes. Good people lead to better people and poor people lead to worse people.

It’s been said that “A” players hire other A players but B players hire C players and it gets worse from there until everyone in your company is a D player. The cost of hiring is not limited to salary and benefits. It should include training, turnover, development of new ideas, practices and products, the inclusion of key relationships and the ability to work well and mentor others. So make sure your culture starts with hiring. It generally takes many months, depending on the position, the company and the industry to find out what people are truly like, therefore, it’s wise to give every new employee a probationary period before offering them a permanent position.

While it is critically important to hire people with the right skill sets, it may be more important to hire people with the right attitude.

Create Events That Establish Bonding Between Employees and Then Instill in Them the Importance of These Events to the Company

A small company with everyone committed to helping each other achieve the company’s goals will always outperform a larger, better-financed firm where employees squander their time and company resources in competing directions.

Make Your Employees Part of the Process and They Will Be More Likely to Contribute to It’s Implementation

Employees who feel that management welcomes and respects their opinions, even if they’re not instituted all the time, will be much more likely to accept and endorse its decisions even if they disagree with them. The act of making employees part of the process creates a compact with management that in general it’s best for all concerned when everyone is mutually supportive.

If You Ask, You Won’t Have to Guess

Employees understand that owners have the final decision-making responsibility. They know that running a business is more akin to a dictatorship than a democracy. They accept that everyone should not have an equal vote and perhaps most importantly, not only do they know this, they accept it and believe that in most instances, management will make rational decisions that will benefit the company and all its employees.

Now Is the Time to Expose Yourself

Be open with your employees. Let them know the company has problems and opportunities for which you don’t have all the answers so you’re asking for their help and counsel.

Now you have to make them feel comfortable so they open up to you and tell you what you need to hear and not what you’d like to hear. In a small company the best way to do this is by directly asking them, either in a group or individual setting. In a large company, the process will be less intimate and therefore less effective. To overcome this shortcoming, increase the frequency so your employees understand you have a continuing dialog and it’s not a one-way conversation where you talk and they agree.

You’ll know your employees care when you can ask short questions and get long responses.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how you can measure and evaluate the culture in your workplace.