Your Employees Will Love You for This

Sabrina Starling Commentary

Your Employees Will Love You for This

How would you describe your dream employee? Perhaps you’d use descriptions like the following:

  • “Great attitude.”
  • “Dependable.”
  • “Self-motivated.” 
  • “Someone who cares about our mission.”

Our business success depends on having great team members who put their heart and soul into their work. 

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But too often business owners feel stuck with employees who fall short. You might find yourself with a couple of good team members, along with others who show up, do some work, but don’t give it their all. 

In fact, there’s a word for this: “presenteeism.” These are employees who punch the clock and collect their paycheck. They wait for you to tell them what to do, then do a mediocre job with what you have asked of them.

Your relationship with these employees is based on a transaction. They work; you pay them. They work harder; they may get a raise. 

But when the next business down the street decides to pay $1 more per hour, your employee leaves to work for a competitor. You can’t afford to pay more. So what can you do?

The problem is that money only goes so far as a motivator. Money does not build loyalty. Many business owners are dismayed to offer top pay, only to find loyalty lacking among their team members, performance falling short and turnover remaining high. 

In fact, various surveys have revealed that many employees feel “used,” thinking their employer is only using their time and skills to meet employer and stakeholder goals, with little regard for employees’ well-being. 

What if you could have a very different and much better relationship with your team members? What might happen if you positioned your company to be in the business of helping your employees realize their dreams? Imagine capturing the hearts of your employees so that they know you have their back — as they look out for yours. 

In “The Dream Manager,” author and business consultant Matthew Kelly describes what happened when a janitorial business plagued by extremely high turnover did just this. The story is fiction, but the process described by Kelly is legitimate and effective in reducing turnover while increasing team member commitment, loyalty and engagement. 

Many businesses coach team members on their performance, but if that’s the extent of your coaching, you are missing out on a significant opportunity to increase their engagement and loyalty to your business. 

Take the opportunity to ask your team members, “What are your dreams?” Offer to support them — through their work with you — in achieving their dreams. Most likely, their dreams will surprise you. You may find their dreams are quite achievable, but they may not know how to access the support and resources they need to achieve them. They may lack certain life skills. 

In “The Dream Manager,” Kelly describes employees who bought homes, took vacations, started their own businesses, started college savings for their kids and more, all with the support of coaching provided to them through their employer. In turn, engagement increased, turnover dropped considerably, and morale improved dramatically. 

Where to start? 

Keep it simple. Start with your best team members. Take them to coffee individually. Ask, “What are your dreams?” Then be quiet and listen. Congratulations, you are starting a new chapter in the life of your business!

Based in Arkansas, Sabrina Starling is the author of the “How to Hire the Best” series, founder of Tap the Potential LLC and host of the “Profit by Design” podcast. Get more resources and tips at