When you hear the word empire what comes to mind? For many business owners, images of vast wealth and unyielding power are the initial response. The idea of creating a business empire is an alluring prospect for entrepreneurs who want to make their mark on world. But it takes work, determination, and other people.
Contrary to popular belief, business empires do not rest on the shoulders of a single person. They start with one or a few people and ultimately require entire teams of individuals supporting and working towards a shared vision.
How do you create these teams? From your employee pool, of course. The way you manage your employees today can significantly impact their contribution to your vision in the future. If you want them to stick around long enough to assist in the creation of your empire, you need to meet a few basic needs.
Your employees need to be:
Believe it or not, most employees feel a basic need to contribute. They don’t want to settle for the completion of brainless tasks day after day after day. They want to help. They want to think. It’s your job as a leader to let them think.
Too often, leaders are afraid to give employees the freedom to contribute their ideas. They believe it will lead to the wrong choice or action. It absolutely might, but mistakes present more opportunities for good leadership than a workforce composed of mindless drones.
Allow employees to share their thoughts. Redirect any wayward thinking. Teach staff to process situations in a way that is beneficial to the overall goals of the company.
Nearly all humans want to feel included whether they’re among friends or at their desk. The best way to meet this need at work is to share with your employees. Make them a part of your common vision and a part of your success.
Let them work as a team to complete projects that are an integral aspect of achieving your next goal. Sure, they might not accomplish tasks as well as you can. Sure, it’s tough to give up even the smallest part of your business ideas. But the reality of life is that people only care as much as you allow them to care. Inclusion kindles their fire, which in turn fuels yours.
Most leaders know their employees need to feel appreciated. We’ve made up holidays dedicated to the cause. What leaders don’t know is that there is so much more to employee appreciation than a bagel breakfast and a new notebook. In fact, appreciation doesn’t have to cost you anything at all. It can be as simple as saying thank you.
It’s okay to be tough on your employees when you want them to deliver results, but it’s imperative that you appreciate them when they have already done so. Valued employees are less likely to feel replaceable, and much more likely to offer value in return.
As difficult as it may seem, leaders need to learn to trust their employees will both perform well and make the right decisions when faced with a difficult task. You can set standards, but you need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes someone will let you down.
So what if they do? Teach them how to handle the situation next time. Use screwups as coaching opportunities. If you can’t teach others to do what you need them to do — if you can’t trust them — you will never be capable of running an empire.
Most employees do not enter into the workforce capable of performing every aspect of every job with 100% accuracy and efficiency. They almost always require some form of training, company retreat, or mentorship to develop their skills. Some of this training should come directly from you and your company. The rest, however, should come from an external source.
It’s an unfortunate reality that a portion of what you say will be automatically disregarded by your staff members merely because you’re the boss. When an outside mentor says the same thing, however, it’s much more likely to make an impact. Even though the development is coming from someone other than you, employees will still recognize that you’ve made an investment in their future, which is a form of value they’ll likely be eager to reciprocate.
Every employee has a growth edge. As a leader, it should be your goal to help them expand beyond it. It will not be easy. In fact, it will require a lot of repetition on your part.
Your goal is to eliminate the stale mind mentality that naturally develops when someone engages in the same activities on a daily basis.
Think of your employees as arm muscles. A single workout isn’t going to give you beautiful biceps. You have to consistently repeat the workout until, eventually, you build new muscle wall. The same is true for your employees. Challenge them again and again until the new skill is ingrained. Then, find a new skill and do it again.
Building an empire is no easy feat, and many entrepreneurs would be hard-pressed to say they did it alone. It takes a strong, well-informed team to turn a single business idea into multiple bustling enterprises.
Establish your supporting circle early. Cultivate your employees into an irreplaceable resource. Show them value and invest in their well-being and professional development. Share your company goals with them. By taking the time to demonstrate their worth, you’re turning employees into empire advocates.