Power to the people

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What would happen to your company if tomorrow you arrived at the office and found every employee missing in action?

Could you and your senior level staff — assuming they weren’t among the MIA — simply pick up the slack, carry on with business as usual and satisfy your customers’ needs?

Probably not. And unless your business is a small firm with only a handful of clients, you’d probably be in deep trouble.

That’s why successful leaders typically surround themselves with competent employees talented enough to execute upon their vision and strategic plans. The smartest leaders recognize the importance of hiring people who complement their strengths and make up for any weaknesses.

Too often, however, the people who drive business the most — the employees — aren’t given the credit they deserve when the pundits analyze successful business leaders and their companies. Beyond good ideas, it’s those employees who toil in the trenches that make the strong companies of today great.

I regularly attend award luncheons and banquets around Northeast Ohio, and it’s always refreshing when leaders recognize the root of much of their success and include their employees among the first groups they thank.

“This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have a great staff of people,” they’re wont to say.

Without a doubt, managing employees is one of the most difficult tasks any business leader must tackle.

Ask any CEO and he or she will tell you it would certainly be easier to order employees around and expect they’ll follow through with the jobs they’re assigned or face unpleasant consequences. Over the years, many a workplace has succeeded under a heavy stick wielded by impatient and potentially cruel executives.

But that’s a poor management style that in most cases is doomed to fail. It’s much more challenging — and effective — when you understand the importance of your employees and their true impact on your business and manage with a style that’s reflective of tolerance but lays out expectations for top-notch results.

The best of the best know how to balance egos, temper praise and constructive criticism, engage in constant mentoring and find a happy medium that both encourages continuous improvement and ensures a productive work force.

We at SBN Magazine understand the differences among management styles — the carrot vs. the stick, so to speak — and take our cues from successful executives who lead by example and keep their sticks in the closet.

Each year, in addition to our ongoing analysis of human resource and personnel issues, we devote an entire issue to an in-depth look at the people who power Northeast Ohio business. To do this, we team up with the Employers Resource Council which administers and tallies our annual Workplace Practices Survey.

We invite you to take a look at what your peers, competitors, customers and suppliers are doing, and hope you’ll come away with ideas you can implement in your own business. And, as usual, let us know what you think.