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What are the three most important things any business must do?

There are many things that businesses must do to succeed – such as innovate, stimulate, embrace change, support customers, continually evolve and so on – but there are three key things that EVERY business must do. And if they don’t, I believe they should consider stopping trading immediately.

The three things that are absolutely paramount for any business are:
1. Value their staff
2. Value their staff and, finally,
3. Value their staff

No, this isn’t a clever, jokey piece. I’m not trying to be smart here, I am deadly serious. If you do not value the people who work for you then you really don’t deserve to run a business. Recently, I wrote a piece entitled ‘There is no room for rudeness in business’ and I would now extend this point to the boardroom.

Consider for a moment where your profits come from. Are they generated by the company directors? No. They may have the original ideas and concepts but someone has to put them into effect. Are profits generated by the salesforce? No. They may win the orders and even increase sales but without someone to turn those orders into something the customer is happy with, there is nothing to raise an invoice against.

The profits for any business – and likewise its reputation – are down to the workforce who produce the goods, who sweat and toil so that the finished items fit the bill and do exactly what the customer requested. If these people get something wrong, the entire project and any future business could be jeopardised. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, the truth is that you put the success of your business squarely in your employees’ hands.

So it is vitally important that the workforce is given every tool and support to enable them to deliver the kind of services and products that your clients not only love but will want to order again and again. And when I say support I mean motivational support as well as financial.

Obviously, you pride yourself on being able to attract good quality workers but you should also pride yourself on being able to retain them and get the very best out of them while they are in your employment. They are not there to do your bidding without question. They are professional people whose input should be valued and respected – if they’re not, then why have you brought them into your company? And if you think that people can simply be replaced if they don’t perform (so why bother investing in them), ask yourself if that is seriously any way to run a business. For while your new recruits are climbing up the ladder of understanding of your organisation, your clients are one by one sliding slowly down the snakes of disappointment.

So how do you make your workforce feel that they are appreciated? No, not by silly gimmicks or games where they are more likely to feel patronised than valued.

Here’s what you do:
1. Listen to what they have to say. Even if it’s a complaint, consider why they have a beef and ask yourself how you are going to address it. You want to make your company a great place to work so if your workers are not happy – which means they will not produce their very best work for you – you need to find out why and do something about it.
2. Watch your language. Your workers are adults – professional adults. They do not respond to being spoken down to, being ‘told off’ or even being threatened. You’ll get the best out of them if they feel they are valued and that their skills are appreciated (and, ideally, that this is recognised in how much you pay them).
3. Involve them in the decision making process. You know what they say about mushrooms that are grown in the dark. Don’t consider your workers as people that you simply drop projects on from a great height and expect them to get on with them “ASAP”. The earlier a person is involved in a project the more they understand its purpose and the more likely they are to deliver against its goals.
4. Thank them. I don’t mean reward them with bags of sweets or trips around Brands Hatch, I mean simply say: “Thank you, this is great”. One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is to take good quality work for granted and only comment when work falls below a certain standard. Don’t restrict your conversations with your staff to negative criticisms, take the time out to thank them for a job well done. Guess what, they are far more likely to do the next job just as well – if not better – if they have had a metaphorical pat on the back for their last job. And you must mean it because insincere praise is probably the only thing worse than no praise at all.

So that’s it, simple really. To me, these issues are pretty straightforward and every decent company should work in this way but you’d be amazed how many highly profitable businesses out there take their staff for granted.

If you aren’t already, embrace the concepts listed above and you will see a huge difference in your organisation. And just to make it worth your while, always remember that a happier workforce is more willing to go that extra mile and more willing to make you an even bigger profit. And since profit is what drives most businesses, it makes sense that the more content your workers are the more money you will make.

Thanks for reading. As well as other blogs on here I have several LinkedIn Pulse posts here and you can connect on Twitter via @thewordfactory.

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Rory Baxter, owner of The Word Factory, has decades of experience as a writer, editor, and public relations practitioner.

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