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Invest in Your Employees


A lot of this post is obvious, but in this post I will discuss what employees want from their organization, what managers should do for their direct reports and what the organization can provide their front line employees.  This is the same no matter if the org is a law firm, B2B tech company or a non-profit.  Employees are the most important part of an organization. Invest in them.


What does an employee want:

  • To matter and they want the work that they do to matter
  • To establish their own identity
  • A manager who cares about them
  • The opportunity to do what they do best at work
  • To feel valued and valuable
  • To be managed.  Everyone deserves to be managed.
  • To be paid fairly so that money is not a reason to leave
  • To be communicated to about the goings on in the organization
  • To get clear direction.  Not an instant message on what do do.  Not a quick hallway discussion with a it would be nice mention.  Not an email with a whiteboard photo attached to it.  A great manager gives clear direction with reasons for the task.  Usually this is a written direction.

Here is what a good or great manager should do to their direct reports:

  • Treat them as people.  Not resources, objects, functions or machines.  A manager is a leader who should be genuine, which is the secret sauce to great leadership.  People have feelings and leaders need to remember this.
  • Mentor them as their success leads to organization success.
  • Strive to send them home safe, healthy and fulfilled.
  • Instead of using people for the manager’s success, a better principal to follow as a manager would be measure success by the way organization touches the lives of people – customers, employees and partners.
  • Trust them.  Managers need to have an optimistic view of them.
  • Encourage them to develop and express their talents.

Here are a few things that an organization can do to invest in its employees:

  1. Send them to a conference.  Allow them to talk to others outside of the normal day to day job.  Getting away from the office and listening/talking to others gives them ideas and allows them to be creative.  After the employee attends the conference have them present their conference knowledge back to the team.  Make sure that in the budget there is money to have employees (those over a year at the company) attend conferences.
  2. A nice thing done at a company I worked at was that in its weekly status reports (15Five was used) a question was added where someone could recognize other employees who did great work or helped someone out.  These comments were mentioned at company meetings and displayed on the monitors in the kitchen area.  Employees like to know that they were appreciated.
  3. Employees appreciate being given a service day a year so that they could give back to their community in a way of their choosing.
  4. Create a training program for managers.  But they only  need to attend training sessions that apply to them.  Some examples of sessions could be the following: Handling Remote Employees, Negotiation with Employees, Motivating Employees, and How to Do Performance Reviews.
  5. Hold a once a month company meeting that gives an update to employees on what is going on in the company.  Employees want to be communicated to about the organization they work for.
  6. Make sure that performance reviews are done on a regular basis.  Everyone deserves to be managed and given feedback.  It should be part of the culture of the company.
  7. Provide training on tools especially for new hires but make sure there is ongoing training as well.
  8. The company should have a community service program where the company encourages the donating of time and money to certain programs / non-profits.  I know that I have had a great time and much satisfaction when I do charity walks with my fellow employees.  And I appreciated when my company donated money to the non-profit and encouraged employee participation.

I am a big fan of Daniel Pink’s book, Drive.  Every manager should read it.  Not everyone is driven by money.  Some people (like me) are driven furthest and fastest in pursuit of what we love. A manager needs to find out how each of their direct reports is motivated.  Many lead themselves!  Do not treat every employee the same.  Get to know them and what motivates them.  I love teamwork and it is a big motivator for me.

Organizations should invest in employees not as a resource but as a human being.  And managers need to understand this as well.  I hope that my direct reports have felt that I have followed the above as their manager.  Yes, I know that the above is obvious.  But it is amazing how few organizations really invest in their employees.  Let me know what you think.


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