As a materials and components vendor I do plenty of quality audits. These audits can be a tedious affair. However, when I visit this one customer in Kentucky, the quality audits aren’t so bad. Do I dare to say enjoyable?

Before starting the audit, I always meet with Frank. Frank is the president and owner of the company. He personally walks me out onto the production floor. As we head toward the insulating glass (IG) line, we pass numerous employees. This is no small company—there are over 150 employees. Frank knows each and every one of them. He greets each one by name. He introduces me to them and then tells me something about each employee. It may be something they accomplished at work, or even little bit about something interesting or humorous they have done outside of work. If we see 10 employees, I hear 10 names, 10 stories and then see 10 big grins. What we have here is an owner who relates to his employees. He doesn’t make them feel like he is above them, but, rather, makes them feel like equals.

Rule number one is to be relatable to your employees. This creates positive interactions and forges connections. This forms bonds between the employees and the company management or ownership.

Next, do you know how to get the most out of your employees? Do you know them as well as you know your car?

Does this sound like a weird question? Not really! Think about it. You know a lot about your car. For one thing, you know what is under the hood. What type of engine does it have? What is its top speed? What type of fuel is needed to get the best performance from it? If you fill it with 91-octane fuel, will it accelerate faster or run more efficiently? Or is 87-octane enough? What type of maintenance does it require? How often does it need a service check to keep it running smoothly? How fast can it go from zero to 50? How many miles can it go on a gallon of fuel?

Sure, you know all these things about your car because it is an important part of your life. It is essential in getting you to where you need to go. In a similar fashion, your employees are essential to get your business in motion. Without them, you will not get your business where you want it to go unless you understand how to get the most from each of them. What makes them go from zero to their top speed? What factors motivate them to achieve their top performance?  Pay is important to a certain level, but never underestimate the significance of corporate or public acknowledgement of individual performances and achievements.

So, rule number two is to never underestimate the power of individual recognition.When people are recognized for achievements on the job, it builds intrinsic satisfaction with their job as well as the company environment.  This forms bonds between the employees and their jobs.

Rule three in getting to know your employees is recognizing and leveraging their ties to the community. Utilize their relationships within the local community. Leverage these ties to create a positive impact. Your company can use its employees to build up and improve the community. Every company should strive to improve the community in which it resides. Involve your employees in fundraisers or events outside the company that can “lift up” the community. From feeding the homeless to creating a local park for the kids to play in—I have seen customers take on fundraisers and projects that positively impact their communities while using their employees’ local ties. This creates intrinsic satisfaction among your employees with your company’s reputation and forms bonds between the community in which the employees live and the company for which they work.

Nobody will argue with the fact that good people are hard to come by these days. For each good one that you let walk out the door for the last time, it might take you 50 more to interview, 10 to hire, and 9 to fire (or who quit) before you find that one that can replace the one you lost. Sounds expensive right? So, take the time to really get to know your employees and remember these three rules which will forge bonds with them and will help keep your company moving smoothly down the road!

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