It's probably easier to see now, but you didn't start your business just to make money. You did it to feel something - independence, a kind of freedom and control over your life, to be able to do it your way. And you "re-earn" that freedom with every headache and heartache that comes with being a business owner. But while there are certain things only an owner can feel - good and bad - there's a version of that freedom that each and every one of your employees wants for themselves. And you have more power than you know to give it to them.
This is what employee mentoring is all about. It starts with accepting the real responsibility that lies in having authority and influence over someone else's paycheck, not to mention the rest of their day. That's why it's one of the most essential components in our coaching curriculum - and why none of our coaches would let you get away with not having regularly scheduled meetings with each person who reports to you.
How is your business ever going to reach that beautiful vision, embody those deeply-held values, and reach those financial goals, if the people you need to get there are left behind in the process?
Step one is booking those appointments and treating them as the most important meetings in your week, because they are. We call them employee development meetings, or "one-on-one's." Call them whatever works for you, but the question is the same: What do you actually do when the door is closed? Of course, mostly what you're going to do is just talk, person to person, and follow your intuition on what's important. But there's a few different kinds of questions you can come back to as you go.
We talk a lot around here about our company values – which one of them is most important to you?
Here are some examples:
- "We talk a lot around here about our company values - which one of them is most important to you? Why is that?" "Was there something that happened before you started working here that caused you to feel that way?"
- "I'd love to hear an example of where you feel like we didn't live up to our standards, or anything else you see along those lines. Was there something we did that you felt let down by?" "How do you think we should handle it differently next time?"
- "Do you feel like you're in the 'center' of your job? Meaning, are you doing something that really suits you? And do you feel like you have the right amount of responsibility and authority to do it well?"
- "What would you say is the 'theme' that runs through your work here? For example, do you tend to get lost in the details on projects, or struggle to feel relaxed in talking with our customers? What are you working on as a professional goal for yourself in being here?"
- "Does working here make you 'better' at your life outside of here? Meaning, do you go home feeling good about yourself and your contribution? What do you think is in the way of you feeling more that way here?"
- "When you think about where you want to be a year from now, or three, how does working here serve that personal dream? What is it giving you, or could it give you, that serves you and the life you want?"
As you can see, these questions are 'soft' - they're not about today's tasks or next week's deadline. They're questions that invite your people into the big picture, not only to 'do better' at work, but to 'be better' in their life, and most importantly, experience that they matter to you as a person - that their individual hopes, dreams and fears are all part of the magic that is your brand. That's the real purpose of the meeting, so they can bring that much more of themselves into work today than they did yesterday, and most importantly to feel they have your support in doing it.
When your business gets to that place - where there's no split between financial success and the personal kind, you'll never again have to worry about attracting and retaining talented people. All you have to do is remember which came first for you when you started your business. What drove you to where you are today? Was it really about money... or was it something else? It's the deepest way your business can be a reflection of you. And your best people have already answered that question for themselves. All you have to do is ask.