Manage your business
Shark Tank's Daymond John, on how to motivate employees
This is part of a series of columns by Daymond John, an American businessman and author. It is presented by Chase for Business.
From FUBU to The Shark Group, I've run businesses of all different sizes. These days, I keep my staff to about 30 people. I've found that's enough to keep the company evolving, and for everyone to have a chance to grow in their role. It's also a reasonable number for me to get to know everybody's personal goals for the job, and how I can help them get there. My employees are not only working for me—I'm working for them too.
I'm on the road about 250 days a year for speaking engagements and meetings with business partners, so I wholly depend on my team members back in the office to keep the train moving. I hire people who share my values and my best practices—in short, people I trust. I also want them to trust me to allow them to pursue their dreams, develop a vision, and feel that they have a purpose and room to grow. This way, we're all making a difference.
Here are my five essential rules for motivating employees:
1. Find out what drives each individual
Everyone is motivated by something different. It could be money—which is OK—or supporting their family or achieving their own professional goals. The important thing is to find out and act accordingly. Pay employees what they're worth, involve them in big projects, give consistent recognition and, most importantly, respect their personal time—after all, they have lives and families waiting for them outside of the office too.
Then check in regularly—not to check up on them, but to make sure they are clear on what they need to do to accomplish their goals.
2. Give everyone a voice
Your employees have great ideas on how to improve and optimize various projects, or even the business as a whole. They are the ones in the trenches after all. But some employees aren't comfortable speaking up, which is why I always take the proactive approach—I ask their opinions and listen to what they have to say. If the idea is good, we implement it. Having their input taken seriously not only gives the team more pride in their work, but a motivating sense of ownership.
3. Value intrapreneurs
Intrapreneurs act like entrepreneurs, within a company. They solve problems, innovate and take risks. They find the best and most effective ways to work and gain better results. Intrapreneurs are similar in attitude and ability to the best entrepreneurs I've seen on Shark Tank.
I've been an entrepreneur all my life, which means I understand the desire to accomplish my own set of goals. At my company, intrapreneurs are encouraged. I let them take the ball and run with it—and watch them score again and again.
4. Create a culture of motivation
Two years ago, I moved my team into a new office. What I wanted from the new digs was an open work space. I wanted to be sure that everyone was working together, motivating each other.
What is equally as important, though, is the company culture. You can hire the smartest person in the world, but if they don't fit in with the team, it most likely won't work out. Motivation is contagious. So, I make sure my employees feel empowered, are excited about their projects, and are happily building a skill set that will equip them for the future. And when the team does well, I make sure that the success is about them, not about me.
5. Offer incentives
Employers know that benefits are key. That's why companies are doing more and more for their employees every day, including things like unlimited time off. However, benefits don't have to be expensive or elaborate—think gift cards, a free lunch, a paid day off. What do all these practices get them and therefore, you? Motivation for all of us to work even harder.
All of the advanced technology, brilliant business plans, and cool office space in the world won't make a difference if your employees aren't motivated. Take the time to find out what drives them, and act on those. Give them reasons to stay.