How to Be the Proactive Leader your Business Needs You to Be

We’ve recently discussed the importance of utilizing internal audits for your company and the questions you need to ask to get there. Now it’s time to think about what “little” things you can change once you get those responses.


Now remember, everyone, and we mean everyone, in your organization must answer these questions to get a full picture of the status of your company. The process of asking all employees for their input, if done properly, goes a long way toward fostering an engaged work force.


When analyzing the responses you need to isolate where the main issues seem to be; is it a lack of excitement? Trust issues? Or problems with your supply chain partners perhaps?


Though a work day doesn’t need to be thrilling, having an air of excitement is important to keep your business running smoothly into the future. Do your employees look forward to coming to work every day, or is it a grind for them, and why? How would you describe your managers’ approach? You certainly don’t need cheerleaders and over-the-top ‘rah-rah’ enthusiasm, but you do need a respectful environment. Sometimes the difference is as simple as employees being greeted as they enter and told they are appreciated for being there.


Employee’s attitudes and excitement are transferred to others, especially suppliers and customers. Your employees can either detract from the company or they can present a positive image of the community. How often to you check to see what you employees are saying about you, whether online or in face-to-face interactions? If they’re only sharing negative perceptions, then that becomes the perceived image of the company.


Sure we all want to be the employer of choice in the community, but we often forget the little (and easy to fix) things that keep people with you or drive them away. How long has it been since you have looked at lunch rooms, restrooms and work areas? Are they clean; are they up to date? Do they make it easy for employees to get through their days?


And what do you see when you look at the exterior of your facility? Is your parking adequate and free of potholes and unsafe areas? These items might seem like inconsequential or minor details, but to employees dirty or inadequate facilities are often the reason they will leave your company.


Trust is another big motivator for employee retention and success; without it, employees don’t feel that they have a place in your organization. James Autry in his presentation Love and Profit states that there are no secrets in the workplace, yet organizations try to cover up and conceal information that many employees already know. Honest communications within a company promotes trust at all levels. In survey after survey, an item of concern for all employees is to “feel like they are in the know”. Keep you internal communication high and you’ll ensure that your employees feel heard and trusted.


However, often the issues that keep growth and success at bay arise outside of your building and immediate employee base. If you notice a consistent issue in your internal audit responses relating to supply chain partners, then you need to pay close attention, as they are an often-forgotten key to any company’s success.


Take a good look at your business practices when dealing with suppliers. How loyal are they to you? Do you continuously beat them down to where they can’t make a profit? Does your company broadcast and leverage your suppliers’ prices to secure more competitive prices from others? If so- what kind of ethical behavior are you exhibiting to your team? If you constantly display scheming behavior like this, people will take notice. Loyal suppliers will move on and your employees will doubt your ethical convictions in every other area, leading to a devastating lack of trust.


Internal audits and SWOT Analyses are great to do at least once a year. But the very best organizations are constantly looking at these kinds of questions on a regular basis.


It is how the proactive leaders keep an eye on the pulse of the organization, how they’re always are the employer of choice, and it’s how they keep from falling into the trap of the status quo. It is why proactive leaders have a growing list of loyal employees, suppliers, and customers that allow for profitability in the business, now, and well into the future.


Roger has spent his entire 49-year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight. For this and other great articles visit the PPI Columbus Blog.