Brian Smith, founder of Ugg Australia Boots, spoke at the Inc. 5000 Conference and shared some great advice for founders who are frustrated with their startup’s slow growth. “You can’t give birth to an adult,” said Smith. “When your company is an infant, it’s not going to get up out of the cradle and go to college. You have to feed it and nurture it.”
What entitles Smith to dole out such advice? Business success. Smith imported the sheepskin boots to the U.S. and sold them to the California surfing community. He sold 28 pairs in its first year but thanks to care and feeding, the company now generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Although the advice Smith gives pertains to startups, the same holds true for your employees – and all personal relationships for that matter. People are not self-sustaining, they are like plants. If you don’t keep employees engaged; if you don't feed them, water them and give them light, they will die on the vine and disengage. This phenomenon plays itself out most notably among people in prison who are put in solitary confinement. Research shows that confined inmates experience a multitude of psychological effects, including emotional, cognitive, and psychosis-related symptoms.
And while the way employees are treated in workplaces is much more humane than the conditions in solitary confinement, the overarching theory is still true: to keep employees engaged, they will need more from you than a paycheck. In order to flourish – because I hope you agree that survival is not the goal – you must meet or exceed their basic human needs:
- To have a job that has meaning, where I add value and know I am making a difference.
- To have a voice and know my voice is heard.
- To be acknowledged and appreciated for a job well done.
BE AWESOME! What are you doing to feed, water and give your employee’s light? Everyone of your workers started on day one engaged, so if they are disengaged it means their environment is not nurturing them. Want to know exactly where you need to improve? Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey to find out. Need a survey vendor that’s a good fit for your organization’s size, scope and budget?