By Steve Czerniak, Subject Matter Expert, SCORE of Southeast Michigan

GREAT employees performing within.

GREAT processes and using GREAT tools to produce.

GREAT products that satisfy clients and customers who generate added revenue.

GREAT profit for the company.

It’s about "greatness." and it all starts with people. “You get what you measure and you measure what you treasure.” If you value your people and understand their importance in your business, you should measure them and how you care for them. The culture of the organization starts with the leader.

Process and tools are great, but they don’t use themselves. The people of the organization hold the knowledge, skills, abilities and experience required to use those resources. Most of customer satisfaction comes from the way that employees interact with clients and customers. Ultimately, the efficient and effective operation of the business is generated by committed, motivated and inspired employees.


People need to be part of a trust-based relationship with their supervisor. Together they need to build reputation, intent, credentials and experience.

Employees need communications to provide them the information they need to do their job and stay informed. If the leader doesn’t communicate what the employees want to hear about, then the rumor mill will fill in the blanks with whatever nonsense available.

Delegate responsibility, authority and accountability. These three things go together. One is worthless without the others.

Manage the resources supporting doing the work. Resources include the availability of people, processes, tools, equipment, facilities, intellectual property, funding etc.

Motivate the employees. An example of essential motivating factors is:

  • Pay employees in a competitive manner, commensurate with their contributions.
  • Make sure that they know there’s work to do today and for the foreseeable future.  
  • Teach and inform them about the health of the business.
  • Keep people involved in the operation of the business.
  • Let colleagues work together in teams. Help them to do so.
  • Recognize good work and contributions to the operations and growth of the business. 
  • Give people professionally challenging work and truly empower them to do it.

Mentoring and coaching must be provided. Think of this beyond their direct supervisor. Employees need someone to confidentially get guidance.

Maintain and update records of their knowledge, skills, abilities and experience. Memory doesn’t work. All too often we specifically remember the last thing they did, whether good or bad, rather than a year or career’s worth.

Supervisors need to use what they know about the knowledge, skills, abilities and experience of the employees to expand their empowerment by giving them their next assignment. “Hey, you did pretty well. Let me trust you and give you a little more responsibility, authority and accountability.”

This process repeats regularly from one assignment to the next.

Organization Elements

People need and deserve “care and feeding” by the organization. All of the following features must be aligned with the values and strategic plan of the organization, including:

The organization structure needs to be documented and well known. The structure should be implemented to facilitate adding value to the product and enabling the work. People need to know who reports to whom.

Several systems need to be in place to support employees doing the work and growing with the company. That should include consideration of information management, compensation, feedback, communications, performance management, delegation, motivation, recognition, reward, knowledge sharing decision-making, hiring, empowerment, escalation, measurement, manpower planning, discipline, employee skills and succession.

Employees need to have the skills necessary to do the work. We would prefer to hire people with all the skills that might be required. Sometimes, that is just not possible. Employee development includes technical, management, and social skills. These skills can be provided using training, experiential learning, advanced degrees and certifications, and mentoring and coaching. Development should consider the needs of the employee and the organization’s needs.

Every organization embraces a style of behavior, communications, sharing openness and relationships. Leaders should inspire that style very deliberately.

Symbols mean something. Employees infer all kinds of messages from symbols such as: office or open space, size of office and size of desk, location of office space, location relative to managers, access to computer and type of computer or access, office amenities (e.g. carpet, etc.),  titles and meaning of titles, access to rooms (conference, team, work, storage), access to keys (or possession of), parking (covered, uncovered, reserved, location), dress code (formal or informal), lounge or recreation facilities, eating facilities, who is taken to lunch by whom, memberships in clubs and societies, and invitations to social events. 

About the Author

Steve Czerniak retired after a successful 37-year career as a leader and innovator. The last fifteen years were a series of opportunities that honed his skills as an internal consultant and “change agent.” In retirement, he is a volunteer consultant and a SCORE Subject Matter Expert for the Southeast Michigan chapter. His personal volunteer objective is to “derive personal satisfaction from helping others, and the organizations they operate, to develop and prosper.”

People Are the Key to Making Money. Take Care of Them.