As a SaaS company, we strive to help organizations achieve their goals. We believe that one of the greatest challenges that organizations face in hitting their peak potential is developing and sustaining fluid internal communications. Providing regular employee feedback is vital for developing a strong team and a healthy business.
While financial success and company growth are important, our benchmarks for success also depend on the creation of more open and authentic communication between team-members and the personal satisfaction that can only come from the common fulfillment of an uncommon purpose.
Attaining the highest levels of productivity and engagement from employees takes time, effort, and genuine desire to extract the best. So developing a team is a lot like cultivating grapes from the vine. You plant the seed when the employee is hired and you then begin to provide all the nourishment and care to produce the fruits of their labors. At this point, you must discern whether your direction is fostering or hindering their growth.
Challenge often does more for your team than comfort. The highest quality grapes are not planted in the most fertile soil and given plenty of water and nutrients. Giving them everything that they need produces a bigger yield but this makes the vines lazy, and it shows in watered down fruit with muted flavors.
But challenge the grapes by planting them in rocky soil with poor nutrients and the plants really have to struggle to extract moisture and nutrients. The handful of grapes that are born of this process will be exquisite and will have the potential to produce complex, balanced wine of extraordinary quality.
The same holds true for your talent. Let them fill in the gaps and figure some things out for themselves. This will allow them to reach their peak potential. Of course this process still requires constant awareness and nurturing. We have found that weekly reports offer the insight leaders need to determine if employees are struggling too much or deprived of resources.
There is no standing still in business. Days become weeks and weeks become months. Letting your vines sit untended means that they are susceptible to disease, pests, and unfavorable weather. Your employees are no different, they require consistent (and often light) care to flourish.
For decades, companies have been standing stale with their employee engagement, checking in just once a quarter, or worse once a year. Every week that passes without checking in with your team is another week where you risk impact from undesirable forces like misunderstanding goals and objectives. If you don’t check in for a little while, there is plenty of time to make small adjustments. You can prune a bit here and there or add nutrients and water. Wait too long and your entire harvest will be ruined.
Regular check-ins are critical, and they tend not to occur often enough. Quarterly 1-on-1’s could be far more powerful if you had twelve weeks’ of consistent communication to look back on. Rather than talking about an issue for the first time when you meet face to face, you could be congratulating your employee for resolving it two months ago.
While providing feedback is critical, it is pointless unless you and your team understand the high-level purpose behind the product or service that you offer. Knowing why you do what you do is critical for guiding day to day performance and achieving a long-term mission.
Just like growing grapes — the point is not to eat the fruit, your goal is to eventually craft a delicious, balanced, nuanced wine. Knowing the style of wine you want to eventually produce in two years will influence how you grow your grapes today. Produce fruit with thick skin and you will have wine with high tannins. More sugar will yield a higher alcohol content. Less sugar and you will craft a more acidic wine that pairs well with food.
So when you develop your individual employees everyone from the bottom up must understand the collective purpose, the company mission. Then when you can communicate with the team you can easily guide them back on course and make leadership decisions with this high level purpose in mind.
It is incredibly satisfying to be fulfilling our purpose every day, and helping companies to discover and fulfill theirs as well. We constantly see the immeasurable value in the fluid communication of employee feedback, and the resulting transformations in leadership and talent. Specific purpose varies from business to business, but we all have a deep desire to achieve our highest potential. To do that, we must listen to our employees and guide them to reach theirs as well.
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley
How do you cultivate a strong team? We want to hear from you, leave a comment below.