How to transfer your passion to your employees?

by Joe Fontenot

How do transfer your passion to your employees?

This is the perennial problem for business owners.

You have a passion. So you start a business and bring it into the world. But to scale (so that you don’t have to work 100 hours every single week) you hire others to help with some of the smaller things.

Inevitably your staff doesn’t treat your customers like you do. And they don’t have the same passion for their work—and your business—that you do.

This is understandable. It’s your business, not theirs. But on the other hand, your customers (and your business) are still the ones suffering for it.

And, to make things worse, this is bad marketing. When customers don’t like their interaction with your brand (your employees), you have to spend a lot of money to fix it.

So what’s the solution?

Here are 3 ways to get your employees to care about your customers like you do:

1. Cross-train (but not for the purpose of work)

Most cross-training is so that when one person is out the other can pick up the slack.

But here, that’s not the point. In fact, doing that will probably work against you, because you don’t want them to get used to doing this extra function.

Instead, the goal here is for your staff to experience your brand in a completely new way. (This, after all, is what each one of your customers do.)

When they do this, they will be able to make recommendations for changes, as well as understand the journey each customer has to go through to buy from you.

The good new is: this doesn’t need to take a lot of time.

As little as 30 minutes a week is enough. All they need to do is get enough exposure to experience the frustration or newness from the vantage point of your customers.

2. Give your employees a safe space to use their gifts

A lot of owners get nervous here: I don’t want them to screw it up is the most common response.

And that’s okay. This isn’t the wild west. We’re not talking about turning over the reigns completely. We’re talking about just a small part.

For instance, if you have an employee who dresses well and likes fashion, bring him in on the esthetic design of some part of your shop. Let him give you a proposal, and then give it a try.

Or if you have another employee who’s meticulous and likes numbers, let her take a look at the inventory. Would she manage it a different way? What changes could we make, and what plan will help us implement?

Depending on your employees, most probably won’t take you up on this. But a few will. And those few will likely give you some insight you missed—not to mention, they’ll enjoy their job a lot more when they can bring their special touch to it.

3. Let employees learn new skills (on the clock)

In 2016, the average employee worked for 4.2 years before moving. That’s almost a 10% drop from only 2 years earlier.

A lot of business owners are hesitant to invest a lot in their staff if they’re only going to be leaving soon. But this is a mistake.

Because you’re not investing in your staff–you’re investing in your customers. It’s more a byproduct that your staff benefits.

When you give your employees space—on the clock—to learn a new skill that will impact your business, it needs to be something they care about.

Doing this will go a long way for them. And it will enrich the experience your customers feel.

Here’s a criteria for picking skills that will be good for your business, your customers, and your employees:

Something they can teach others. If you do not know it well enough to teach it, you don’t know it well enough. When they teach others? When they do, they’ll be able to explain to customers, as well as educate other staff members.

Skills they can use today, on the job. If you’re giving them this time, it needs to be for the business. But by letting them learn something new and practical, they’re actually becoming marketable for their next job (a win for them).

The interesting twist here is the more they enjoy this job, the less tempted they’ll be to switch. Which is a win all around.

What about failing?

When you do this, you have to give them the room to fail, too. That means not coming down hard. Even if it costs the company money. What will be much more impactful is to walk them through the failure when it happens.