Many if not most of the businesses in the events industry fall into the small business category. We also employ a lot of young people in our companies, and of course always strive to hire the best, brightest and most ambitious.
However, your bright, ambitious young employees have aspirations as well. They’ll want a clear sense of how their careers might evolve. In a small business, that path can be hard to visualize. It’s easy for employees to get the idea that someone will have to quit or die before they can move up.
As a business owner, you don’t want either of those things to happen. How, then, do you keep ambitious people motivated on a small team?
Here are four tips:
Let Your Team Help Define What the Company Becomes
Having a small team does not mean that people can only advance so far. Give people the freedom to pursue new challenges and opportunities, even if they are outside the core business. If new directions emerge from these pursuits, create new positions and roles to go with them.
Help People Get Excited About Uncertainty
It is typical for entrepreneurs not to know what the company’s next big thing will be. This can be frustrating to team members who want a clear sense of what their next career steps will be.
Part of the fun of the events business is that you never know what’s around the corner, but you do know you’ll seize good opportunities when you see them. Getting your team to buy into this vision is the key to motivation. In fact, your employees have to believe the next great idea may be their own!
Invest Both Money and Time in Your Team
There is no shortage of opportunities for investing in your people: continuing education programs, local seminars, inspirational conferences, and so on. If travel is involved, ask employees to develop a list of expected takeaways from the event to justify the investment.
Broadening one’s range of both knowledge and network contacts can only be helpful to both the employee and the company.
Force People Out of Their Comfort Zones
In getting my own team to buy in on new challenges, I’ve found it extremely helpful to give them tasks they don’t think they can handle but I know they can. In other words, force your people of out of their comfort zones.
When they succeed, have a big celebration to inspire confidence. Don’t hesitate to remind them that they didn’t think they could do it, but you knew they could.
For me, the greatest feeling in business comes not from financial success nor from recognition, but from seeing people I have developed succeed in their careers and accomplish things they did not realize they were capable of.
Hopefully you will also get to experience this joy yourself.
Jeff O’Hara, President
Author of “Have Fun, Fight Back and Keep the Party Going: Lessons from a New Orleans Entrepreneur’s Journey to the Inc. 5000”.