Bosses might want to take notice if employees view their jobs as “the daily grind.”
A disgruntled and disengaged workforce can undermine production and harm customer relations, while a happy, engaged workforce does the opposite.
“If you take care of your employees, they will be better prepared and far more motivated to take care of your customers,” says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), founder and CEO of PFSbrands and author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.
“Ideally, you want employees who think and act like owners.”
Burcham says one of the first steps toward cultivating such an environment is to communicate openly with employees. And that may be even more crucial today because newer generations entering the workforce want to know the “why” of what they are doing.
“Millennials value truth and honesty,” Burcham says. “They also are looking for personal growth, education, and continuous learning. If companies want to scale, then they need to embrace millennials and work to create an environment where they are engaged.”
He suggests four ways leaders can help their employees love what they do:
Have fun at work. People spend more hours at their jobs than doing just about anything else, Burcham says, so the time might as well be enjoyable rather than drudgery. Some simple ways people can have fun at work include cracking jokes, decorating their work areas, or celebrating employee birthdays. For Burcham, the work itself is fun. “As a leader, I want to provide an environment conducive to having fun,” he says. “I also let our employees know that it is up to them to make having fun a reality within their job and their department.”
Coach them up. All employees must be willing to learn at a pace consistent with the company’s growth, Burcham says. “Usually, we hire people with a skillset that enables them to scale with us,” he says. “Sometimes, though, we have employees who are challenged to ‘make the leap’ with us. When that happens, we work with them to find a role on our team where they can excel. We want to provide them with every opportunity and tool we can to help them adapt.”
Maintain a positive attitude. Most successful people exude a positive attitude, are optimistic, and have a never-quit personality, Burcham says. “Who wants to work in an environment of doom and gloom?” he asks. One way to cultivate an upbeat workplace is to strive to hire only “A” players, people who want to be the best at their jobs and take pride in making positive contributions. “But anyone can be or become an A player,” Burcham says. “It simply revolves around having a positive attitude along with a desire to learn and constantly improve.”
Show appreciation. Employees want to know that the bosses – and their coworkers – appreciate them, so it’s important to find ways to show them. Burcham says at his company new hires are welcomed by dozens of emails from their team members before they even arrive for the first day of work. When they start, two or three dozen employees gather to greet them with a high five. “For our team, it’s all about gratitude,” Burcham says. “It’s not, ‘I have to go to work today.’ It’s, ‘I get to go to work today.’ ”
“I think the real key,” Burcham says, “is to hire people who are already motivated and then put them in an environment where they can excel. Engaged employees are fun to work with and they will go the extra mile for their customers as well as their peers.
Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.
Are leaders born or are they developed? It’s a subject that’s long been debated.
And in the workplace, can an employee who holds no supervisory job title be an effective leader — before being entrusted with managing people?
Grant Parr, a mental sports performance coach, says yes — and adds that it’s almost mandatory if someone hopes to be ready as a leader when promoted to a bigger role in an organization.
“Leadership is a choice,” says Parr (www.gameperformance.com), author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. “It’s not a title, position, or rank. You don’t have to be a department head, manager or CEO to be a leader.”
“Leadership is a group of characteristics, and you can acquire them even if you’re not the boss. You’ll never be a leader when you assume that prime time role unless you have developed the qualities of leadership as part of your preparation for the next big step.”
Parr offers five ways to become a leader at a company without holding a leadership-type position:
Listen to others’ ideas. “Leadership is about others, not about the self, and it starts with listening,” Parr says. “Being a leader isn’t putting yourself above others, interrupting them, or acting like your ideas are more important than anyone else’s. True leadership brings out the best in others and your culture, and you do that by making them feel valued and giving them a voice.”
Be accountable for mistakes. “Own your errors,” Parr says. “It sets an example of accountability that is good for the culture. Too many people, when told of a mistake, assign blame and make excuses. A leader corrects constructively and surveys for solutions. As a subordinate, staying positive and offering ways to fix your mistake, and showing the humility of asking for help, is a path toward being a leader people can trust.”
Learn flexibility. “This applies in so many ways,” Parr says. “If you’re stuck on doing something one certain way, you’re headed toward being a micromanager who few would like and fewer would want to work under. Leadership is about tapping into your broad base of workplace talent, expanding knowledge, improving systems and raising the ceiling.”
Interact and network. Networking isn’t only about finding jobs, it’s about connecting with people in a way that enhances important relationships and the work environment. “As you learn to interact with different types in the workplace,” Parr says, “you’ll learn which relationships are most effective, how to help those people with their career, and show your ability to direct and lead.”
Develop a thick skin. To become a leader, Parr says it’s vital to rise above annoyances and petty slights from others and let them roll off your back. “HR isn’t the principal’s office,” he says, “and if you vent every time about someone doing something irritating, you’ll get the reputation of being a whiner. Don’t complain behind closed doors, gossip, or criticize people behind their backs. No one who does those things can be viewed as a leader.”
“People want to be led,” Parr says. “But they don’t want to be bossed around. Great leaders can learn this as underlings on their way to a management position. Then when they get there, they’re ahead of the game — and everyone’s in step with them.”
Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com) is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. Parr owns and runs GAMEFACE PERFORMANCE, a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he now works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians and high school athletes. His podcast, 90% Mental, provides a window into a broad range of athletes’ and coaches’ mental games and shares their insights around mental performance.