In our last post, we discussed the importance of effective communication. What’s next on our agenda?

I Hate Rules and Restrictions and I’ll Bet You Do Too So It Shouldn’t Be Surprising Your Employees Hate Them As Well

Yes, there are laws to which we must adhere and rules need to be imposed to maintain some sense of order because without them we’d have chaos. However, in running a company, values and principles mean more than rules and regulations. When hiring, if you hire people whose values and principles you share, you are half way to building an effective culture. People who share your values and principles will inherently act the way you would in a given circumstance. They don’t require constant supervision. They can spend their time more effectively focusing on the work instead of the appearance of doing what’s right.

Hire smartly and then put your people on the honor system. Give them some latitude and freedom, the same things that you desired when you worked for someone else. If you treat the right people with respect and give them good direction with a clear set of objectives and timeframes, in most cases, you’ll get the results you are expecting.

Use Reverse Thinking

Most companies seem to be focused on employee efficiency and effectiveness as the road to greater growth and profitability. Whereas these are admirably accomplishments, the problem is perspective. These are the results of actions, not the causes of actions.

Instead of focusing on the company, switch your focus 180 degrees and focus on your employees’ life and their work environment. Although desirable, it is highly unlikely that any employee will value the company as importantly as the entrepreneur or even more importantly than their own life and families.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Once you acknowledge their needs, wants and desires, you can build in those policies that will result in increased job satisfaction and personal fulfillment leading to higher personal performance and team productivity.

Communicate to Your Employees That Your Company Has a People Before Profits Attitude

At every opportunity the company should demonstrate its commitment to its employees and treat them as if they are your greatest asset… because they are

A good place to start is by investing in the welfare of your employees. Find out what their problems are and determine if you can come up with a solution. Example: Arrange and pay for carpooling if traffic is a problem; if many of your employees have young children, see if can relieve parental stresses by arranging a babysitting service or daycare service; if many are experiencing money problems, perhaps you can arrange for financial consulting or counseling on budgeting. Little things that show you care will make a big difference in your employees attitude, performance and loyalty.

Just a few simple additions can make for a happier and more enjoyable work environment.

Where possible, try to build your company around how people live and what they care about and not require your employees to build their lives around work. Remember, all of us want to make a difference and serve a purpose in our lives. When we feel supported by others we are much more willing to give that 110% of our efforts.

No Man (or Woman) Is an Island

If you’re not treating your employees as a team, you’re not operating at maximum efficiency and if you think you are, you shouldn’t have any barriers that inhibit interaction. It’s OK to have your office door closed when discussing something personal but if it’s closed all the time, it’s time to think what message that sends.

When your employees feel like they can share ideas and concepts with any one they want regardless of department or title, they feel more connected to each other and the probability that serendipitous interactions will occur will greatly increase.

Effective entrepreneurs do all they can to ensure their employees get to know each other as people, not just titles or e-mail addresses.

Your company’s culture then becomes the guiding roadmap for employee interactions leading to effective business decisions. When employees know they can get mentored from the top and feel obligated to mentor those below, a bond of trust is forged enhancing and continuing the culture. When a company’s culture is really working, it is like an invisible hand guiding employees’ actions to be cooperative and consistent.

Employees may learn something about the company’s culture from the company’s website, employee manual, blogs and company meetings but that will all pale to the observations and experiences they share every day.

If you have a door on your office make sure it’s open most of the time; hold weekly meetings where employees are invited and encouraged to ask questions to anyone in the company; when a new person is hired, take that person and his entire department to lunch; break down their inhibitions and encourage them to experiment without fear of reprisal. Get to know your employees as people, not just their job function.

Once you understand the roots behind a complaint, you can refocus on your larger company goals. One of those goals should focus on how to get your company to support your mission. Check back soon for Franklin’s latest installment in his series on Company Culture!