The Tweet That Got Me Thinking
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, recently tweeted:
“An Ohio factory raised pay from $13.70 to $18.25. Its staff grew 35%. Profit doubled. The extra labor helped them fill more orders. After I doubled minimum wage at our company, our revenue tripled. Invest in your employees, and your business will thrive.”
I saw the tweet shared on LinkedIn, and as you might expect, comments surfaced on every segment of the spectrum from those who wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Price’s opinion to those who couldn’t disagree more.
Since 2015 when he raised the minimum salary for his company’s employees to $70,000 and lowered his own wage from $1.1 million to $70,000, Mr. Price has been a polarizing figure. People either love or hate his ideas.
I’m not here to debate his opinions and strategies.
The Statement That Means So Much
Instead, I want to delve deeper into the last sentence of his tweet:
“Invest in your employees, and your business will thrive.”
We often think only of money when we hear the word invest. You may have invested in your college education. Or perhaps your dream home. Maybe the bigger car you and your growing family needed.
The word invest most certainly can pertain to money.
It also relates, though, to time, relationships, belonging, and psychological safety.
We’re currently living and working in a grand game of tug-o-war. Many employers say people don’t want to work, and many people say employers expect too much and give too little.
So how do we find some sort of balance? A solution that helps us all get to a better place?
In each other.
The Way to Make That Investment Happen
Here’s what that investment looks like for leaders:
1. Provide professional development.
You’ve likely seen the conversation often posted on social media about a CFO asking a CEO, What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us? The CEO replies, What happens if we don’t and they stay?
People want to be challenged and have the opportunity to grow and develop in the work they do. While the stats for employee disengagement are higher than we’d like to see, leaders who provide development opportunities—both internal and external—are telling their people they’re valued, appreciated, and worth investing in.
2. Prioritize clarity.
I love the statement in Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead: “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” People crave clarity which includes everything from creating well-defined job descriptions to asking for understanding at each meeting’s end to transparently sharing your own boundaries of what you will and won’t accept.
Clarity is a gift that keeps on giving. It reduces drama, chaos, and errors that often come from too much ambiguity.
3. Normalize feedback in every direction.
Most people are used to receiving feedback from superiors in the workplace. Ideally, constructive feedback focused on what’s working and what could be improved is happening on a regular basis (and I don’t mean just once a year at performance review time).
What about feedback focused up and to the side, though? When employees don’t fear reprisal for sharing their thoughts respectfully and professionally, communication is enhanced. Trust increases. Empathy is part of daily interactions. And giving and receiving feedback in every direction isn’t the only norm; improved overall results becomes one, too.
4. Deal with the elephant in the room now, not later.
That slacker on the team who doesn’t pull his weight? Your team sees it happening. They’re the ones getting the extra workload. That seasoned veteran who puts new employees down with her sarcastic comments muttered under her breath in meetings? Your team is sitting by watching how you do (or don’t) manage the disrespect.
People are smart. They’re observant. They want to feel proud of the work they do and the organization for which they do it. And they don’t want to stick around to witness injustice happening over and over again. Deal with the elephant so you get the benefit of keeping your strongest team players and they get the benefit of working for a leader who walks the talk.
5. Know what matters most.
What motivates one person doesn’t necessarily motivate the next. You can look at this fact like a chore that will take too much of your time to figure out, or you can go to work to learn what matters most to your team as a whole and each team member individually.
Some are looking for more flexibility. Others want recognition, and even in that group, some prefer private recognition while others want the public shout out for their accomplishments. Some team members love the donuts you bring on Fridays; others simply want a space to work quietly with no sugar at all (Can you imagine?!). Bottom line: know what matters most to them, and do all you can to provide it for them.
The Mindset for Us All
I started the above list of suggestions by saying we invest in each other. And then I shared investment ideas for those in leadership positions: business owners, team leads, managers, supervisors, directors, C-suite professionals.
But what if you’re not currently in a named leadership role? How do you invest?
My recommendation: lead yourself. Focus on each idea shared (and add some of your own). Then ask yourself how you can make it work for you.
- How can you get the benefit of company-sponsored professional development?
- How can you ask for and provide clarity for others?
- How can you make feedback a normal part of your work days?
- How can you professionally communicate about wrongdoings you experience?
- How can you help others know what matters to you most?
We’re in this thing together.
Life and work are not solo endeavors.
So let’s invest. In ourselves. In others. For the greater good of all.