Lori DeVore wants her employees thinking about their jobs, not about the economy.
And with bad news daily and companies cutting back their work force, keeping people focused on the task at hand can be a challenge.
“Get them away from the monitor,” says DeVore, president and CEO of DeVore Technologies Inc. “Don’t let them sit there and say, ‘Oh, this is a terrible time.’ The difference is going to be in our skills and in our energy.”
You need to do all you can to keep your employees energized about their jobs and about the future, says DeVore, who founded the 51-employee IT solutions provider. That doesn’t mean that you ignore the challenges that a slow economy presents or that you try to get everyone to look through rose-colored glasses. You can talk about what’s going on; just don’t dwell on the negative news.
“I’m seeing a hit, too, but I’m staying positive as though I’m not being hit,” DeVore says. “I make it a good feeling, not like, ‘You’re lucky to have a job.’ We’ll never use those words.”
Get your sales and marketing teams out and about to get your name out there and to find new leads for business.
“I have them going to events several times a month,” DeVore says. “Get them out and don’t let them sit in that chair and stare at a monitor. Be out there in Northeast Ohio making a difference and networking and following up. Don’t just meet people and get cards and then send them a mailer on what your company does. Build that relationship immediately.”
Negative energy doesn’t just come via Wall Street or your local business page. It can easily come from your employees’ commute to work.
“We know the weather is always bad in Cleveland, and there is always an accident,” DeVore says. “If you stick to that type of conversation and you allow an employee to come in talking about that, it’s just another day in Cleveland.”
To create that positive feeling, DeVore says you need to greet employees with a smile and a “Good morning.” Share articles about positive things that are happening. Gather in groups over coffee to discuss and get feedback.
“That’s a choice in a company to keep the negativity of the economics or really have that thirst for knowledge and to read and educate,” DeVore says.
Coffee is another simple way to perk up your people. If you’re looking to cut costs, coffee should not be on the list.
“Have a little food for your employees when they get in,” DeVore says. “Better coffee, better conversations. Let them out on Monday afternoon at 3. ‘I think we’re going to cut it today a little early.’ You’re not going to lose money when you show good energy.”
The key is for you to communicate that energy, be present, and be open to talking to and listening to your employees.
“Being present means understanding their life as well as, ‘Are they following the mission of the company?’” DeVore says. “Being present helps the company communicate effectively together and to stay together.”
To promote the sense of team even further, don’t address concerns on a one-on-one basis.
“Make them part of the plan,” DeVore says. “Remind them that we’re doing this together.”
One thing being present does not mean is lurking around your office or showing yourself only to look over the shoulders of your employees.
“If I feel like I have to look over someone’s shoulder, then I’m not present enough to get the job done,” DeVore says.
How to reach: DeVore Technologies Inc., (440) 232-3846 or www.devore.com
Mark Roshon says it’s important that you be fully aware of the situation before you address your employees.
Roshon, founder and president of Tornado Technologies Inc., a software and technology development company, offers these tips for dealing with employees.
Let them speak.
“Just because you’re the president of the company doesn’t mean you have to lead all the discussions or be the primary moderator of everything you do,” he says. “I had some situations where maybe I had a certain area I wanted to discuss and I gave one of my employees the opportunity to lead the discussion.
“It forced them to take ownership of that. It created buy-in because instead of coming directly from me, it was from a peer among them.”
Don’t cry wolf.
“People look to my reaction as to whether they should be nervous or if this is just one of those things we’re going through,” Roshon says.
“If we really have a problem and we need to band together and dig in, I need to have the credibility to bring everybody together. If it seems like every time we have the slightest downturn I’m crying wolf and the sky is falling, I’m not going to have that power.”
How to reach: Tornado Technologies Inc., (216) 454-4000 or www.tornadosoft.com