Many of the most successful managers, as well as being astute business strategists, are actively involved in the everyday workings of their businesses. They lead from the bottom and communicate directly with workers at every level.
Employees are, for most companies, their most valuable asset. One of the primary objectives for a CEO is to maximise the value of this resource and establishing a positive working environment is key. Employees need to believe that their personal ambitions are linked to the overall success of the business, and that their efforts are appreciated. Bosses should not underestimate how effective the creation of a fun, yet focussed, and friendly culture is in lifting morale and achieving higher staff productivity as a result.
Putting effective communication links in place across the whole business, from the most junior members of the team right up to you, as CEO, is critical for creating a positive and purposeful company culture. You should be approachable, encouraging feedback on your performance as often as possible and delivering feedback to colleagues face to face. If something is important, it’s usually best to say it in person. When this isn’t possible or practical, make sure all internal memos are free from jargon and business-speak. This will ensure all correspondence is as clear and as direct as possible.
When you need to give negative feedback, a fine balance must be struck so as not to alienate employees. The last thing you want to do is inhibit their confidence in their abilities and decision-making powers. It’s better to try, fail and learn, than to be scared to try at all.
It’s easy to get caught up in your company bubble, but you must not forget to look outwards. Whether it’s through charitable campaigns, public relations or other community activities, it’s important to develop your company’s image. If your company is well known and respected in your community, your team will feel a sense of pride in their association with the business.
While you may spend the majority of your time working from a single base, if your company operates in multiple locations it is important to dedicate time to each of these offices. Spending half a day with one employee each month can be extremely beneficial, especially if they are a salesperson. Visits will give you the chance to get to grips with the issues your staff are faced with and will highlight any opportunities that are slipping through the net. What is more, they are an excellent way of boosting staff morale; workers like to know that their efforts are of value to you and the business.
While you work hard to build a rapport with staff, remember that you are still the boss, and you must maintain an air of professionalism and retain the authority of a CEO. A balance must be struck. In other words, if you operate an open door policy, ensure you appear approachable, but do not give away too much yourself. And, if you see staff outside of office hours, socialise appropriately, don’t get drunk!
The idea behind these practices is to achieve a common purpose through the combined efforts of everyone in the company. You are the figurehead, and it falls on you to shape this purpose and steer your employees in the right direction. There are two sides to a CEO, and you must know when to show each. It’s a tough job, but when done well it is also one of the most rewarding.