Marketing to your staff: Personality plus

December 21, 2008

Happy employees bring loyalty and efficiency to the workplace.

How do you thank your staff? A restaurant reservation? A bottle of wine? A Secret Santa party? All of these things are fine, but if you really want your staff to feel appreciated you need to know them on a personal level. Loyal and motivated staff are the backbone of any successful business. Open conversation and a genuine interest in the non-working lives of your staff go a long way toward motivating them to want to help you succeed. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to initiate such conversation without seeming nosy or coming across as forced dialogue. Here are a few things you can do to break the ice: Picture contest --  Have staff members bring in baby pictures of themselves, pictures of their children or graduation pictures and challenge other staff members to guess which picture belongs to who. This can stimulate conversations about family and youth, encourage staff bonding and lend insight into the private lives of staff members. Hobby award --  Many companies institute awards or recognition programs, but paper certificates and plastic trophies are not likely to be highly valued and such programs can lead to charges of favoritism.  Instead, reward employees who successfully reach a specific milestone with a trip to enjoy their favorite hobby.  Don't single one person out -- all staff members who reach the milestone should be so rewarded.  To make it even more interesting, ask them to give a presentation about their trip when they return. Take a trip --  Another way to encourage staff camaraderie, especially for small firms, is to take a staff/family trip to a local zoo or amusement park. Unlike luncheons or drinks after work, you'll be able to enjoy the company of your staff and their families in a more relaxed, casual setting, which can help staff feel comfortable sparking interesting conversations with you. Another benefit of the family setting is that everyone is on an even keel. You've stripped the management aspect from your relationship for the day. Even though everyone has different passions and hobbies, they also face similar trials and tribulations in their everyday lives.  Many companies already do this, but not in a way that facilitates office camaraderie.  Stick together and enjoy the activity as a group – if you see your staff as equals outside of the workplace, it will be reflected in the quality of work they do inside the workplace. Personality plus --  Once you know more about your staff members' families and hobbies, you can pepper conversation with interesting and related questions and stories:  "Joe, nice work on the annual report -- the graph depicting our sales focus points was especially enlightening.  Do you feel that your rock climbing hobby helps you recognize reliable focus points on the job?" This is a brief sampling.  What ideas do you have?

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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