Whenever I lead a conference or workshop for small church leaders I remind them that the key to having a successful ministry is their ability to have a good relationship with people. Everything in a small church revolves around relationships. If a person cannot build a good relationship with the people he serves he or she cannot be a pastor in a small church. Much of the same can be said about operating a small business. It’s all about building good relationships.
Those relationships begin with your team members. The people who work in your company are your contact with your customers. If you have a good relationship with your team members it will carry over into how they relate to your customers. If you mistreat your team members, ignore their concerns, or act as if you don’t care about their needs, it won’t be long before they begin to treat your customers the same way.
How much do you know about your team members? Do you know the names of their family members? What are their hobbies or interests outside of work? What is it they are really looking for in an employer? Have you ever asked them how they might do their jobs differently than what’s written down in their job description? What are their hopes for the future? The list of questions could fill this entire post, but the truth is that many small business owners really don’t know much about the people who work for them.
Treating people fairly does not mean that everyone is treated equally. One of the mistakes I made in my small business was that when I gave pay raises, everyone received the same amount. I thought I was being fair to everyone by doing that, but that was actually unfair to those who contributed more to the company’s success. I realize now how discouraging it was to them to see those who didn’t work as hard or contribute as much to receive the same pay raise they received. Talk about demotivating people! Everyone should be given the same opportunities, but those who add the most to the company’s success should be rewarded for that.
You will also damage relationships with your team members if you don’t hold them accountable to high standards. At first blush, you might think that people don’t want to be held accountable, and some don’t. But, your high producers do, and they want you to hold everyone to the same high standards they strive to achieve. No one wants to feel that they have to carry the dead weight in an organization. We’ve all heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s true also for a small business. Dead weight and weak links have to be held accountable.
Being honest and upfront with team members does much to build relationships with them. The best relationships are those built upon trust, and nothing builds trust more than honest communication. Keep people informed about significant changes that might occur in the organization. If there are problems, these need to be discussed as well. People know when things don’t seem to be right, and if the owner doesn’t explain what’s going on, they will make up their own stories about what might be happening.
Above all, don’t lie to the people who work for you. Do what you say when you say you will do it. Be a person of integrity, and you will be someone others want to work for. Build healthy relationships with your team members because they are the key to your success.