That was the message spread by Don Jennings to members of AirTime 500 during the contractor group’s fall meeting in Orlando. Jennings, a speaker with more than 35 years of experience in sales and business management, began his discussion by listing the top 10 things employees requested.
The third item on the list was feeling in on things. He chose that item as the topic for his discussion because he felt it was the most important of all.
“How do you get people to feel that they are part of something?” he asked. “It is important that every employee knows what the company business plan is. They should know where the boat is going.
“People will feel comfortable knowing they are making a meaningful contribution rather than just generating capital.”
FIRST, THE PLANJennings made a list of the items that should be considered in any business plan, including:
• Projecting out 10 years and working backward;
• Dollar volumes that you’d like to achieve;
• Number of employees are needed;
• Percentage of market share wanted;
• What salary and benefits are needed to keep employees;
• How many locations;
• What changes are necessary and why.
He said it is very important to discuss these ideas with not only the employees, but with each spouse. “Would your spouse be happy that you work for a company with a plan?” he asked.
Part of the plan, according to Jennings, is the role and responsibility of the business owner. He noted three main components of an owner’s role. “First, do your job every day the best you can,” he said. “Second, support and encourage your team members daily. Third, help train new people.”
One thing Jennings said that owners should not do is to get involved in rumors or harmful gossip. Rather, he encourages owners to bring a positive attitude to the workplace by setting good examples as a leader.
EMPLOYEES AND THE PLANJennings acknowledged that employees would and should ask questions such as, “What is in it for me?” or “What is my future here?” That’s only natural and a portion of the answers to each question comes from sharing the highlights of the company’s business plan, i.e., salary and benefits, industry training, advancements and promotions, and job security.
“Most people see their work as just a job,” Jennings noted. “In order to build a successful, profitable company, you need to show people that you can provide a future for them and their families.”
Jennings encouraged AirTime 500 members to hold regular company meetings to keep everyone apprised on the plan’s status. At the same time, employees can share success stories and discuss areas where the company needs to make improvements. These discussions can only help the company, according to Jennings, because employees are a valuable source of information. “If you want help, you already have a base of employees who know what to do - as long as they are kept informed,” he said.
He also added these regular meetings should not be oh-by-the-way meetings. They should be regularly scheduled and include individual one-on-one interviews. “The one-on-ones should not be discussions about income,” Jennings said. “You should discuss agreed-upon commitments and show appreciation for their efforts. Invite their spouses to the meeting, too.
“It is important to involve the spouse in the process because they can encourage the employees to work towards a goal.”
Jennings noted that spouses should also be involved in the interview process. He encouraged owners to invite spouses at one stage or another in the process, since their future is also dependent on the future of the prospective employee.
MORE BENEFITS OF INVOLVEMENTEmployees will be inspired and motivated to work harder if they are allowed to share in a plan, Jennings said. They will also respond more to continual reinforcement in place of temporary fixes like contests. Having a plan will also ensure loyalty.
“Having a plan and sharing it will reduce turnover and change the entire recruiting process,” he said. “If your employees are part of your plan, they will bring in other people and they will brag about their workplace.”
He noted that most employees believe a paycheck will solve all problems and that money can be a bribe to make them perform better. “This is short-term thinking,” he said. “These people are not part of your company’s future.”
Jennings said that by involving people in the business, they will also improve their own lives. “Companies don’t fail, people fail,” he said. “Companies don’t succeed, people succeed.”
Sidebar: What Do You Say?Audience Members Speak Out on Meeting
ASTIB CAMPBELL SR.
Jacaranda Air Construction Inc.
Glen St. Mary, Fla.
“If your employees are not part of what you are doing, you’re a failure from the start,” he said. “Employees are an integral part of every business.”