In the last article we spoke about broad outline of how to differentiate between employees and co-owners and some broad outline of what can be done to motivate and retain them. In this article we will focus on some specific activities that can be done to develop a strong glue between the firm and the co-owners.
Back them up to the hilt during rough times
There is a fire on an account or a key customer relationship is on the rocks. And one of the co-owners is in the thick of it. Do not get into the battlefront right in the beginning. Allow them to start fighting the fire but make sure at the back-end you are there for them every minute and they get the feeling that you have absolute confidence in them and their ability to overcome the phase. Once you come out of the fire successfully, celebrate together and share with everyone around how they were instrumental in the resolving of the crisis. This creates a sense of being together and a bond that is hard to forge otherwise. Watch out for overdoing this though. It completely backfires.
Let them know you know of their initiatives and you are differentiating both tangibly and intangibly
One of the biggest drivers for a co-owner is their sense of ownership, the satisfaction that they derive from going beyond what they thought was their capability, discovering something new etc. While they do feel the need to be recognized, the manner and tone of the same makes a lot of difference to them. For example they would shy away from asking anything monetarily but would definitely know if it has been inappropriate. And if it’s purely monetary also they may not be that excited.
The challenge really is to find a way of consistently letting them know that their little or significant progress is being noted of, undertake little gestures of appreciation which they would not have expected (with a personal touch it just becomes a tad more better) and slipping in the right monetary incentives at the right time. Now, do not just leave this to the HR department. Participate in it yourself and be there. It lets them know in unstated words that they are important to you and you are going that extra mile.
Do some creative tasks or time-outs together
There are a little quirks and sensitivities to all of us and co-owners are no exception. Like most people, to know theirs, either you need to be a friend or a smart/keen observer. Now office situations are not the most conducive one to observe as they are less likely to be their natural self. Take time out and do some freewheeling brainstorming on an idea or a business opportunity. Let the setting be informal and make sure you do a lot more listening than speaking. The trick is to get moments when they realize they have hit upon a cool idea or activity or both of you hit upon the same thing instinctively. Once you hit a couple of high notes and a couple of time outs later you will actually find them opening up more and you will see their little quirks slowly and subtly visible. Make a note and ensure you factor that in many things you do with them at the workplace. Without uttering a word or hinting at it visibly. You would begin to see a certain comfort level that would develop and evolve over the years which is what great teams are made of.
At this point, working together actually becomes a pleasure and one actually misses or looks forward to meeting or working together.
Allow them time to do something they are passionate about
They have a hobby they like or a skill they would like to acquire. Help in as little ways the business allows you to (without going overboard). Doing something they like, makes anyone more cheerful, passionate and you will see them charged when they come to office. And greatful to you for the thought that you had and for the initiative that you took.
Over and above all these, ensure you keep a constant dialogue going, that you keep the channels of communication open all the time and that you find little opportunities of interest to them.
If it has not already dawned on you, this requires skillsof a true leader which is what you need to be to attract, hold and retain co-owners. Passionate and visionary one at that with your own little quirks and a warm attitude towards people.