"Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company." --- Zig Ziglar
Some business leaders learn that if they can give a few tokens of appreciation or whatever the gift card, bonus, and vacation of the month is they read recently, they will have loyal, dedicated employees. This management philosophy is not only untrue, but it is detrimental to the health of your organization.
Just like in long term relationships, the kissing is fun, but it doesn't make for a meaningful, longterm courtship. For the employee/employer relationship to last, it must have three key ingredients that are as easy as ABC:
1.) A: Approve the Work- Of course your employees want money, they have bills to pay too. But studies have shown that is not the greatest motivating factor. Your employees want approval for the work they are doing. They want to know that what they have put their time, energy, talents, knowledge, and skill into is doing some good for somebody or something. The best thing you can do for them is to provide them feedback on their performance on a regular basis and not just as an annual review. This feedback serves two purposes: It allows you to make any course corrections on the employee's performance and it lets the employee know that they are appreciated, whether it was for a corrective interview or a pat on the back, both serve the employee well and both provide encouragement.
2.) B: Be Open - Business leaders that keep secrets from employees are recognized by the staff as untrustworthy. It is not that you have to open your checkbook and show them all accounts, but you should share, on a regular basis, new developments, new projects, new bids, and anything that affects the outcome or direction of the business. Keep in mind that when they came on board, they were hoping to make a difference in the company (if you hired otherwise, revisit that hire and find out if they are someone you want to keep), so if they are kept in the dark, you are hurting your business. Start a town hall meeting, meeting of the minds, or whatever you want to call it to inform everyone of your plans and where the company is going. You'd be surprised how loyal and dedicated they will become to your mission when they know that you trust them enough to be open about the business.
3.) C: Cook, Don't Kiss - Kissing is the easy part of a relationship. You just purse your lips, move close, and... well it is easy. But cooking takes time. If you love the one you are with, you want to cook a great meal that makes them smile after every bite. Business leaders can learn to cook for their team members by learning about the team. Taking the time to study the history of the employee, their aspirations, their ambitions with the company, their likes, dislikes, dreams, and passions. Of course it is a lot of work, but there is a lot of working in courting where you have to learn the same things about that person. It takes some energy, but it is worth it.
The kissing is just fluff-- plaque, extra day off, gift card--- all good things, but they are just kisses. The cooking is reaching deep and finding what makes that person excited and giving him or her those new tasks to learn, or time for classes, mentoring them, teaching them to sell, and so forth.
Begin to cook more and kiss less today. Print this page and post as a reminder of what you will be implementing this week. Teach them to your management team. If they don't know how, start your own "cooking" school.