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Merely slashing costs and taking your employees for granted are not sustainable for profits. Workers are realizing they’re not sharing in the wealth.

Poor morale will cause profits to plummet. What will CEOs do when it gets much worse?

Leadership is a must. Leaders employ best practices with a vision for growth.

The key to long-term profits is organizational cohesion. Some businesses are profitable simply because employees trust and implement management’s vision. Let’s consider how to increase worker productivity and reduce labor costs.

If you want to increase worker productivity and reduce labor costs, here’s a question: Are your employees buying into your vision for growth?

Leadership style is important. Earning respect is paramount. Note: There are 10 key differences between leaders and managers.

In fact, mutual respect is the first step in getting employees to share your vision. That results from implementing strategies for healthy worker satisfaction, which might seem like an impossible dream for some employers in this economy.

When a company under-performs, do employees blame managers? In all probability, the answer is yes. At a lot of businesses, the workforces are unhappy with management. And the majority of employees want their bosses to invest in them.

Is your business suffering from poor morale? If so, take steps to increase your profits by communicating better with your employees. Generally speaking, employees who are satisfied with their jobs perform at higher levels, which is really a result of their satisfaction with their employers.

A study from a 2006 Biz Coach column confirmed this supposition. That’s when I reported Deloitte Consulting concluded that the 56 public companies included in Fortune’s list of “Best Companies to work for” had a 78-percent higher stock performance than the S&P 500. And I’m betting a similar study about profitability would have the same result today – in either big or small companies.

So what do workers want monetarily? They want what is probably impossible for cash-poor firms.

The top worker preferences:

  • Competitive wages
  • 100 percent paid healthcare
  • 100 percent company-funded 401(k) plans
  • A compressed work week
  • Flexible schedules
  • Bonuses

Great profits or not, you can tap into other worker emotions that satiate them. Do your workers respect you? Do they feel treated with respect? Companies failing to take the necessary employee-motivation measures can expect employee turnover – whether or not the economy improves.

Here’s a leadership checklist:

  1. If you’re new to the job, earn your stripes and demonstrate humility. Unless it’s a crisis turnaround situation, take several months before implementing changes. New bosses inherently intimidate workers – give them a chance to like you or least feel they know you.
  2. New or not, be accessible. Walk the floor twice a day. Spend five minutes a week with each employee whenever feasible. Show interest in them. Ask open-ended questions to get them to talk with you. If you do, they’ll conclude you’re a brilliant conversationalist.
  3. Actively listen to your employees. When you’re approached put down the pen or turn away from your computer. Employees rave about bosses who give their full attention.
  4. Encourage workers to suggest ideas for business success. If an employee makes a suggestion – even if you’re not in full agreement – look for reasons to be accepting of the idea. The worker will give 1000% to make an idea work, and the person’s morale will skyrocket. If it doesn’t work, the employee will endeavor extra hard to fix it in order to save face.
  5. If you’re not the top person in the company, use your influence to help employees to achieve their career goals. If you are the top manager, do whatever you can.
  6. Recognize top performance publicly. Praise immediately.
  7. If you must criticize an employee, try to use the layered-sandwich approach – two positives, the negative and a positive.
  8. Avoid criticizing an employee publicly.
  9. Ask questions before you start reprimanding. Sometimes there are good reasons for negative surprises. So avoid unnecessary embarrassment for your employee and you.
  10. Consider the Pareto principle when you honor workers – the top 20 percent deliver 80 percent of top performance.
  11. Maintain a steady disposition. Otherwise, when you’re under duress about a business matter, many employees will take it personally and mistakenly think you’re unhappy with them.
  12. Try to get key employees to buy-in to your new initiatives before implementation.
  13. Use good technique when implementing instructions. That means being direct, low-key but firm and maintaining strong eye contact. Explain the reasons whenever possible, but don’t be tentative or apologetic.
  14. For complex projects, be careful in how you give instructions. Take adequate time to list and document your wishes and deadlines. Recap in memos or emails. Like good meetings, everyone should know who will do what and when they’ll do it.
  15. Follow up and inspect your employees’ work or deliverables. Show your interest.
  16. Be courageous, especially in unpopular positions, but be cool under fire.
  17. Give your employees freedom – don’t micromanage. Make certain your subordinate supervisors do the same.
  18. Assess your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Take appropriate steps to alleviate weaknesses and hone your strengths.

If you execute these ideas, you will profit from good labor relations and you will be in a position to leverage the perspective of your company’s human capital.

From the Coach’s Corner, see additional tips:

Sales Management: Motivate Your Staff in 10 Seconds — All too-often when sales managers are busy, they’re task-oriented. Not to be critical, but they’re focused only on what’s at the end of their noses. For effective management and revenue, the trick is to guard against it.

8 Career Tips to Unlock Your Potential as a Leader — It’s important to note that leaders aren’t necessarily born. They develop themselves. They don’t settle or languish. They evolve by constantly assessing their progress for improvement.

Leadership and Planning Tips for Successful Project Management — In truth, projects fail because they’re not managed. Yes, there are varying degrees, but in reality they’re either managed or they’re not. The project manager must possess 11 leadership attributes to manage the team, stay on track and keep within budget.

Four Tips to Motivate Employees When You’re Facing Adversity — Effective bosses have antennas to alert them over looming challenges. If they don’t have such an antenna, it’s important for them to develop one for multiple credibility reasons. Even the bosses of small companies can suffer from image problems externally and internally. Either one or both will adversely affect profits.

“It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead – and find no one there.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.