Business owners go through stages in their growth cycle. At first all you can think about is starting your own business and working for yourself: “Man, that feels so good! Now I don’t have to answer to anyone. I can work from the couch in my PJs, and it’s OK because I’m the boss.”

Then you realize business doesn’t come through the door quite as fast as you’d like if you’re in your PJs on the couch. So you put on real clothes and go out and network. But that’s OK, because you’re the boss, and you can network as much or as little as you like.

Then the networking actually pays off, and you’ve now got more business than you can manage on your own. So you hire someone and that’s cool, because you’re the boss! But wait a minute. That means you’re the boss. The success or failure of your employees depends heavily on your ability to be a good leader.

Here are four ways to keep your employees engaged, happy and profitable — for themselves, for you and for your company.

  1. Ask them what they would do. I’m very clear that I have only one brain and many times it doesn’t hold the perfect answer. It does, however, hold the final answer. So when asking your employees what they’d do if they were you, don’t be surprised if you get an answer that you never would have thought of alone … in your PJs … on the couch.
  2. Say “thank you.” I know it sounds rhetorical or standard, but it works. As a former employee of Wendy Kinney with PowerCore, I can tell you firsthand the impression she had on me by not letting me leave for the day without thanking me. I realized that whether I had messed up that day, or was 100 percent on the ball, my efforts were appreciated. I have instituted that in my A Big To Do Event office, as well, and hope my employees and interns feel the same way I did.
  3. Make expectations clear. Every Monday morning we have a full staff meeting called “Monday Morning Huddle.” This is an opportunity to go down the list of every event on our books and discuss the next deliverable, who is responsible for it and where we stand. We do this so no balls get dropped  and our clients receive 100 percent accurate and on-time deliverable execution. It also keeps employees accountable.
  4. Stop and smell the roses. It’s totally fine to take one day a quarter and do something fun with the team. If you live near an amusement park, take your team there one afternoon. Around the holidays, we have a family dinner at my house. All current employees, recent interns and their significant others are invited for a potluck dinner. This lets us really connect on a personal level and get to know the family members with whom we’re sharing each other’s lives.

I hope these ideas spark some of your own thoughts on how to engage and motivate your team. We’d love to hear what you are doing in your business. Leave your comment below and/or connect with me on Twitter (@ChecklistQueen).