Are you a business owner, the boss?  If so, you are used to doing evaluation reports and giving your employees feedback.  But how often do you evaluate yourself?  Do you grade your own paper on how you are managing?  More specifically, how you treat the very people that work for you.

I have been a business owner for more than half my life now and understand how overwhelming being the boss can be sometimes.  The buck stops with you and so does all the responsibility.  It can be a very lonely place.  That doesn’t mean that we can isolate ourselves, especially from those that are working hard on a daily basis to keep our business running as smooth as possible.  Open communication is vital for the life of a business.

As the business owner, you are the leader of your company.  The question you now need to ask yourself is, what kind of leader do you want to be?

Recently, I read an article entitled, “4 Ways to Define Leadership” that was published back in September 2017 on the Business News Daily.  Staff writer, Sammi Caramela broke down these 4 ways into the following:

  1. Leaders better their environment
  2. They know their team and themselves well
  3. Leaders maintain a positive attitude
  4. They build the next generation of leaders

Do you notice a common theme around these 4 ways to lead?  None of them suggest a leader in isolation.  In fact, just the opposite.  As a leader, are you giving your employees the tools they need to be successful?  Have you communicated your vision for the company, so they know what you are looking for?

Yes, those that you have hired are your employees and you are paying them to work.  If you treat them as nothing more than a worker bee, that is exactly what you will get.  If they feel they are not being listened to, they will stop talking.  If they are not being asked for ideas or their opinion, they will stop giving it.  Their attitude becomes one of just doing enough to collect that paycheck and not about building something more.

However, what happens if you take on a true leadership position.  Now there is communication and a sharing of ideas with someone listening on the other end.  Suddenly these same employees are eager to show what they can do for the company and put in that extra effort.  They feel like they are building something together.

So, what are some things that you can do to show your employees that you truly appreciate their time away from their families to join your business family?  You might be surprised at just how far good old appreciation will get you.  I have compiled a list of 10 categories that can be used to come up with ideas. This is something you can customize to your company and your employees.  We often think of bonuses when it comes to a boss showing appreciation, but it doesn’t even have to be that big.  Perhaps your company is not in a place to be able to do a monetary bonus just yet.  There are so many other ways you can show your appreciation to your team at any time.

Let’s start small and work our way up:

  1. Act like a true leader of the company and not someone that is above them.  When your employees talk, listen.  Be sure to look them in the eye so they know you are taking interest in what they have to say.
  2. Back them up in the presence of clients.  It sends a strong message to both the employee and the client that you put your trust in this person.
  3. Along those same lines of trust, don’t be a micromanager.  If you have done your job right, you shouldn’t need to be standing over them while they do theirs.  When they feel that trust, it gives them a boost which will show in their performance.
  4. How about some good old-fashioned praise?  It’s not dead and might go further than you think.  Don’t you like being told you did something well?  Of course, you do.  Most people do.  When employees feel appreciated, it tends to make them want to do more.  Make sure it is about something specific, so they know you mean it.  General praise can lose its meaning.
  5. Transparency.  Keep your employees in the loop about what is going on in the business.  They will feel like part of a team and want to do their part.  There are limits you put on this as the business owner, but don’t leave them wondering.
  6. Employee Platform/Feedback.  How about having some kind of a platform where your employees can give you their thoughts and ideas.  This way they feel like they are contributing, and you know what they really think.  If you don’t want to do something in person, have an anonymous questionnaire for them to tell you how they really feel.  This way they can give you honest feedback without worrying about how it may affect their job.  Have this on a regular basis.
  7. Feed them.  This doesn’t have to be big.  Make sure the break room is stocked with snacks that everyone loves.
  8. Surprise them.  Bring them breakfast or lunch one day.  Or go even bigger and give them a half-day off.  Everyone loves extra time.
  9. Creative Bonuses.  It doesn’t have to be the same for everyone.  Let the employees choose their reward.  While Sally might like a monetary bonus, Jill might like a few extra days at Christmas.  Ask around and see what your employees like.  Get to know them and make it personal.
  10. Company gatherings and/or party.  The tried and true office party to celebrate something big or the holiday around the corner.  Bring everyone together and build that team spirit.

We think of showing gratitude in business as giving more money.  While that is certainly a good way that most employees love, the point is that you don’t have to go that far.  People want to be rewarded for hard work and sometimes, a smile is enough.  Don’t forget who makes up the backbone of your company.  You are leading a machine, but those working the machine need to know you appreciate what they bring to the table; that you want to hear from them and will truly listen when they talk.  Your business will thrive for it!