By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD
Building a loyal team can impact everything from your company culture to your bottom line.
RECOGNIZE THEM AS INDIVIDUALS
Several years ago I was wandering around Home Depot and Target. I was picking up crazy things for my 65 employees before our holiday party: a yardstick for Danny, because he always goes the extra yard for us, a fire extinguisher for Bill, a magic wand for Carly, a magic 8 ball for scheduling and pom-poms for the plant manager.
I tried to pick out something that symbolized what that employee meant to all of us and what we recognized as their strength. One of the employees at Home Depot finally came up to me and looked in my cart – he said “Lady, I just have to ask you, what in the heck are you building?”
“A team” I answered, laughing.
Years later, after the company had experienced some hard times, Danny wrapped up the yardstick and gave it to me for Christmas – he said that all the employees knew that I had gone the extra yard for them that year. There wasn’t a dry eye at the party and I still keep the yardstick on top of my computer to remember that day.
SHOW THEM THAT OTHERS NEED THEM TOO
To get everyone involved one year, we all picked names of our fellow employees out of a hat. You had to say ten nice things about your person and build or make something for them. Everyone went all out making mobiles, globes, illustrations, framing artwork and pictures. But, most significant were all the wonderful things that they had to say about each other.
BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR PRAISE
I’ve found that a big part of feeling valued occurs when employees are aware that they add something to the company that no one else can. Last year, I chose a book that I thought symbolized what each employee meant to the company. The Magician for Michele, The Fearless Leader for Bill, The Book of Joy for Michael, The Old Man and the Sea for Mike, etc.
HAVE FUN AS A TEAM
Every Friday, we bring in lunch for all the employees and they get to pick a different place to order from. The only rule when we come together is that no business is discussed – we talk about kids, dogs, funny stories and weekend plans. On occasion, we go to Roanoke Park and climb on all the equipment and enjoy the sun while eating our sandwiches.
When I got sick in 2016, I had a meeting with my attorney, accountant and insurance broker. They challenged me to write down every question that employees lined up outside my door to ask every day. After writing them all down, I assigned someone or empowered the employee to make that decision while I was gone – they already knew the right answer. And, big surprise, since I have been back, no one lines up outside my office. They all know the right thing to do and make good decisions.
As an employer or a manager, one of your most important responsibilities is making your employees feel truly valued, letting them know that without them, your company, your department and you – would be worse off.