Dear Boss, I Don't Care About Your Business
Get Your Staff to Buy In
We have many staff who work enthusiastically and attentively. And I am happy to state that we pay relatively well and effort is rewarded. Ideas are rewarded. We also have staff who seem not to care less.
Why is that important to us? Because if we can get our staff to buy in to what we do and understand what our business is about, we will be more successful in getting them to care about the business. This will in turn lower the number of staff who could not care less.
Ultimately, most people work hard to earn a living and put food on the table, educate their children, pay the mortgage and enjoy life with the bit that is left. Many are not particularly interested in what their employer is all about and many employers are poor at communicating the core vision of the business to their employees. A commonly held view amongst employers is that the workers are there to do their jobs and it is none of their concern what the executives are trying to achieve or what the founding intent of the business was. I inherently disagree with that view and maintain that you cannot get the best out of people if they have no purpose in their actions.
By purpose, I do not mean the action that constitutes their job, such as building a concrete skyscraper, laying carpet or studying legal documents. I mean the vision that somebody had to build a new headquarters for his business, the communications of that vision to an architect, the design of that building and physical engineering calculations required to make that design possible, and many more steps down the road, the pouring of concrete to create the functionality and beauty which first took shape inside somebody's mind. You see, what people do at work all day is not merely mundane. It is giving meaning and shape to an entrepreneurs vision.
Some suggested reading
Business Owners Must Share Their Vision
During the formative stages of a business and while the business owner is heavily involved on a daily basis, I submit he or she should share their vision with their employees. Help them to understand the importance and significance of what they do every day. In later years, and once a business is firmly established, the vision should be communicated to employees in effective ways. The vision, as embroidered on the executives' silk ties and printed on expensive napkins in the company jet or even set out on the business website, has no meaning to the people who form the living essence of your business. The people who discuss your business with their loved ones around a dinner table in the evenings or at their children's birthday parties on the weekends.
Understanding something gives greater meaning and weight to the tasks involved in achieving that something. Even as children we ask our parents "why" when asked to perform a task and our young understanding of the purpose behind that task makes its performance acceptable. I can clearly remember the frustration at the retort of a teacher in response to my query "Because I told you so". That did not seem like an answer to me then as a five year old and it does not seem like an answer to me now!
The suggestion to come out of the above, is to explain what your business is about to your staff. Not in high-faluting terms reserved for lawyers in boardrooms, but in plain language. Once they understand what they are doing, how their contribution fits in up- and down-stream, and the underlying "why" of what their employer does, it will be far easier for them to have an interest in the tasks they perform day in day out. Understanding that the widget they make is critical to the product manufactured, or that the inspection of accounting records is important to understanding the ongoing viability or expansion of a business is essential.
Communicate the vision of your business to your staff and at least give them a chance to care.