There is very little about the business world that is safe, especially these days, but that has not stopped Jim Wyland from trying to find safe harbor for his employees at WealthStone Inc.
From what is he trying to protect his people? Well, he is trying to make sure they have forums to raise concerns and initiate discussions about what they see happening at their company.
“The really bad thing in trying to have a round-table discussion is they put people on the spot, and they hate it,” says Wyland, founder and director of the 28-employee financial planning firm. “It is all about relationships and understanding each other and having a safe place to go when you have a great idea.”
Smart Business spoke with Wyland about the various tools he uses to put his employees in a good place to use their gifts.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in getting people engaged in your company?
Most effective leaders are focused on helping employees invest in their strengths and helping to get employees into the job that fits their natural gifts. Leaders understand what their followers’ needs are. The biggest challenge is finding people with common values who have a diversity of these strengths.
We really did not get the leverage model. The owners and the leaders of the company were starting early and leaving late and the team was starting late and leaving early. Relationship building is the key, and it is what brings teams together and it is what holds them together. We had areas that did not have empowered leaders. The areas that did have an empowered leader, they thrived. But the areas that did not have a clear leader, they just sort of floundered.
When people do not work in their strengths, the engagement is not there. You need empowered leaders to help employees find their strengths. I want to be a leader who gets to wake up every day and enjoy what he does. When the team can do that, the enjoyment factor is much higher.
Q. How does that help the business?
Once I know what my gifts are, let’s stop having me be as involved. For the people I delegated to, it was a joy. Now, I have this team that is having a lot more fun.
Now, there are going to be people in the room saying, ‘That’s for me; I want to do that. I want to take the role of leading that initiative to make it happen.’
When you get focused on your unique, natural abilities, you love doing it. When people are around you and see you when you are doing that, you feel like you are in your zone.
This translates to huge gains in the company’s bottom line because every employee’s factor is higher.
Q. How do you start getting other people that involved?
You need to take the time to do the one-on-one communication with your people. Take the time to sit down and talk with them. Just say, ‘I would like to spend more time with you. Let’s talk about some different ways we can do that.’
It kind of evolves from there. When you schedule it and do it, it does not take a lot of time to transform the depth of the relationship. We are so guilty of being so busy that we do not always put first things first. Relationships are really important. It shows the employee that you really do care and that you really do want to get to know your team.
I have one young MBA who played football for (The Ohio State University). We schedule a monthly lunch and it is an agenda that just builds on itself. I am his mentor, but it is really up to him to dictate the agenda. It is really fun.
Q. What are some keys to keeping people once you have them in the right spot?
There are reasons why people either stay or leave. The first one is that they like who they work with. There is a camaraderie that they feel. ‘I enjoy working with you guys.’ There is a caring and a friendship.
The second key is the ability to grow. It is the ability to increase skills and knowledge and the chance to grow in their career. They want to have the actual chance to make a difference and be given responsibility.
People need to feel like they are cared for and feel like people love them and care about them as a person. They need stability. They also need to have hope for the future, faith and guidance that this person is going to help them.
Q. What is the key to making this all work?
Make an effort to go find great leaders. Strong teams are magnets for talent. If you have not spent the time with your people to build trust and compassion and those relationship things, you need to do it.
You have to do the one-on-one relationships. If someone is really good in a particular area, say, ‘You are really good at strategic thinking, could you help me? Could you prepare something for the next meeting?’
Most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize the skills of their team. The best leaders are not well-rounded; the best teams are. People stay because they have a chance to make a difference, be given responsibility and be rewarded for doing their job.
How to reach: WealthStone Inc., (614) 267-2600 or www.ppcco.com