One important formula for business success is simple: happy people=happy customers=higher profitability.
As a business owner, one of your most important responsibilities is to make sure your employees come to work each day highly motivated to do their job, and serve you and your customers extremely well. But with all the challenges facing mold shop owners today, your focus may tend to be the same as many others—making money, paying bills, and trying to stay afloat, and not striving to keep your people motivated and providing an environment where they can excel. If you don't pay attention to the attitudes and performance of your employees, you will never be able to keep your customers happy. This is a must if you want to prevent losing business to your competitors.
If you were to ask mold shop owners what they are doing to keep their employees motivated, you will typically hear one of the five answers below. Their responses can help you to make some assumptions about their shop culture and their leadership style:
- "I have no idea. I absolutely don't know. I've tried everything. No matter what I do, I can't seem to make them happy. Seems they just have the attitude that the owner makes all the money and they will do only what they have to do. That's all." This owner must be very frustrated, and needs to gain support.
- "I have great people in my company. I don't have to motivate them." This owner must know how to hire right and has a shop where high levels of teamwork are practiced.
- "We have a simple reward and recognition system." Smart shop
owner—probably sets aside a small budget per year, and recognizes that sometimes, little things can make a big difference.
- "They'd better be motivated or they can work somewhere else."
Probably is a tough boss and doesn't have a high level of morale.
- "Me. I motivate them." Another very smart shop owner.
While there is no magic bullet to employee motivation, one important formula for business success is simple: happy people=happy customers=higher profitability. If you keep this formula in mind as you interact with your people each day and implement some of the practices below you will soon see a difference in your company.
Look at Your Company with the Eye of an Outsider
Ask yourself, what might be holding back productivity and morale? Do I have people on my team who display negativity, unprofessional behavior or are not completely competent? If this describes even one of your employees, you will have a big problem with morale. One negative person can pull down the morale of others. One individual who is incompetent call hold back productivity and an entire team. In addition, others will wonder why you haven't done something about it. While it is not an easy task and you must do things legally, have the courage to remove anyone who might be holding back your team and your company.
Hire the Right People in the First Place
Establish competencies and show them new job candidates. Make sure you hire people who possess those competencies and the right professional behaviors and attitudes. When you hire right, it will help you to:
- Focus on the customer and important projects
- Create, strategize, improve operations, make decisions and focus on what's most important: the customer
- Improve the level of quality
- Make a strong statement about your organization
- Develop a good reputation
Many mold shop owners hire people on their technical ability alone. Or, they hire people because they are very likable. Here's what else you need to know before you move forward with any job candidate.
- Were they punctual and professional?
- Did they go the extra mile at their last job?
- Did they have a genuine desire to be helpful?
- Did they have a genuine desire to want to excel?
- Who are the three references they used? Are they valid references?
- Can they do the job? Are they competent?
- How are they likely to do their job? How is their attitude?
- Do they want the job? What is their level of interest?
- Will they fit in with your culture and your team?
Set High Standards for Performance
Never settle for mediocre performance from your people. Demand excellence. If you look at the most successful mold shops, the owners run a tight ship and they expect the highest quality from their team. This includes everyone in the shop and the office. Practice the think straight, talk straight management principle: e.g., catch them doing something good and tell them right away. Catch them doing something wrong and tell them right away, but be sure it's in private.
Establish an Atmosphere of Open Communication
Many technicians and employees in mold manufacturing are in fear of losing their jobs to foreign competition. People lose their motivation if they are not kept informed about what is going on around them. Let them know your business strategy and get them involved with how to plan to build your business.
Ask for Teamwork, Professional Behavior and Accountability
Ask your people to be accountable to each other for maintaining high morale. By placing an equal value on teamwork, professional behavior and accountability, you and your employees will be able to provide better service to both customers and to each other.
Ask for Input, Give Feedback and Take Action
Employee involvement is another key to employee motivation. Ask your people for their ideas on how you can create exceptionally high quality molds and complex parts. Many mold shop owners are guilty of underutilizing the ideas and suggestions of their people. They assume their expertise is only in the technical side of the business. They may have great ideas, but if you don't ask for them, they won't come forth.
Take 20 minutes talk to a different employee each day. Listen to their ideas and encourage cooperation and honesty. Ask about their personal life too. Show them you care about them as individuals.
Encourage People to Be Solution Focused, Not Problem Focused
"For every problem there is a solution" should be a motto in your shop. Challenge them to come up with cutting-edge solu-tions to any problems that may exist. Ask them how you can improve quality, productivity, morale and customer service.
Reward Formally and Informally
Reward your people for going above and beyond for you or a customer; an idea to help you make or save money; a method to improve quality; one year of perfect attendance; and, being the most supportive person on your team. You don't have to spend huge amounts of money, just small and meaningful rewards, such as a gift certificate from Blockbuster, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, a music store; gourmet coffee; dinner for two; gift certificate to car wash; movie passes on birthdays; gift certificate for a cleaning service; gift certificate from a retail store, or gift card; daily pass at the local health club; tickets to events.
Whose Job Is It Anyway?
Recognize that it's your job to keep people motivated. Set the tone and be an example to follow. Be accountable for the attitude that you bring to your job each day. Keep your employees motivated by making them feel they are working with you and not for you. If they feel they are working for you, they are not likely to be performing at their highest level.
As you are going about your daily business, never lose sight that being a great boss, creating a great place to work and keeping your people motivated is one of the best things you can do to impact your bottom line. Lead them well, treat them well and they will become one of your greatest weapons against your competition.
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