This article originally appeared in the May-June 2013 Snow Business.
All too often in this industry owners spend too much time focused on getting the work done and not enough time focused on developing their team. We all know how limited we are when we try to do everything ourselves, yet we still have a tendency to operate with this mindset.
I am guilty of this, too. It took me about a decade to realize that becoming a great employer was my greatest opportunity for success. But once I realized that I needed to step back and focus on building my team, it was like opening the gates of prosperity. I was able to retain top talent, run a great business that people liked working for, and grow, grow, grow.
Define Who You Are and Stick to It
The first step toward becoming a great employer is defining who you want to be and what you want your company to be known for in the marketplace. You must have a clear vision and expectation of where you want to take your company and how you want it to operate, and you have to stick to it.
If you don’t have a mission statement, create one. This will help your customers understand what your company provides, and lets your staff know what your expectations are for them.
Your Mission Builds Culture
Once you have your mission statement in place, make it known. It will give your employees the tools they need to address customer concerns and come out on top—a win-win for customers and staff—and it will become their competitive advantage.
Plus, when your staff understands the company’s value system, they are not only happy to work for you, but they are also happy to tell people how happy they are working for you. This will reinforce your brand, support company morale and contribute to your culture.
Policies are King
Your mission will help guide your employees in their decisions and interactions with your customers, but in order for it to be effective, it must be supported by policies. Policies reinforce your culture and help you weed out bad apples.
So, make policies, be consistent with and enforce them. Pay attention to both positive and negative activity among your team members. Recognize who is “moving the ball” and reward these folks. People will give a lot of themselves when they are recognized and appreciated.
When it becomes clear that someone isn’t aligned with the company’s mission and policies, part ways with them. Your best team members will appreciate this the most.
Culture Allows You to Multiply
When I ran GroundMasters we were focused on the big picture. Our mission was simply to do the right thing with our staff and our customers, and by doing so we were able to provide outstanding service.
We knew if we provided the best service in the market we would receive the last look on the best work, which allowed us to retain our best talent and our biggest contracts year-over-year. This translated into long-term profits and a happy, growing, all-star workforce.