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Five Steps to Increase the People Power in Your Business

Take some bold steps and help your employees and business partners open up to real change and help them start thinking again to the longer term. Send a message that you are ready to commit to new ways of thinking and that that includes a commitment to the success of your employees in the changing workplace.

1. Reconsider your company vision.

A vision statement uses the future to help analyze the present. It must have a message that everyone from the CEO to the receptionist to your freelance workers can understand and put into practice daily. Vision is the match that lights the fire of potential in people. To do its job, a vision must be long-term, meaningful in a human context and appeal to a higher purpose. Make several drafts of your vision and circulate them to people who's opinion you value inside your company and out.

Ask yourself and others these questions:

Does our vision lead to action?

What will your customers be looking for from your company?

Can you live with this vision? Are you willing to act in accordance with it even if times get rough?

2. Devote more time to the management of people power.

People issues only seem to capture our full attention during times of crisis. Give them the time they deserve by setting up regular monthly staff meetings to discuss HR issues only.

Try this exercise: Managers rate the effectiveness of each employee on a simple scale from one to ten. Employees you rate 4 or below are clearly not making it in your workplace. Take action to move them within the company or help them move out of the company within the next 30 days. Employees you rate 8 or higher should have ongoing leadership development plans 'they are your superstars. Spend more time with these people than any others. Make sure they know how you think about them and put them in coaching programs to be sure they continue to develop.

3. Start a 360 degree performance review process.

Have employees reviewed not only by their supervisor, but by their peer group as well. Make these reviews optional for the first year, but mandatory for employees who want to be considered for promotions.

A Caveat: It takes at least 6 months of preparation to introduce a 360 degree review process effectively. Show employees the evaluation materials you intend to use up front. Train employees how to accept negative feedback by giving them a system to take it in and process it before reacting. Also train employees to give feedback that is work-related and objective with factual examples not feelings.

4. Have the employees review the company.

Ask employees to hold the company up against its own standards. Do this survey annually and check the trend over time.

Ask yourself and others these questions:

Does the company walk the talk of its vision and values? Are management employees role models for ethical behavior? Do you take short-cuts with safety? Do you encourage honesty in reporting or do you shoot the messenger?

5. Create action plans for each individual tied to your vision.

Make a direct connection between employee actions and the company vision.

Consider this process:

1. Develop a more specific mission statement from your overall vision, by defining your focus to what markets you are serving and balancing your commitments to quality, value, and service.

2. Determine the factors key to your company's success and focus on specific, but long-term, goals in these areas.

3. Create annual corporate objectives related to your goals.

4. Have each department manager develop department objectives derived from the corporate objectives.

5. Post the results of 1-4 and ask each employee to develop individual objectives related to his or her department's objectives.

Jan B. King is the former President & CEO of Merritt Publishing, a top 50 woman-owned and run business in Los Angeles and the author of Business Plans to Game Plans: A Practical System for Turning Strategies into Action (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). She has helped hundreds of businesses with her book and her ebooks, The Do-It-Yourself Business Plan Workbook, and The Do-It-Yourself Game Plan Workbook. See for more information.

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