Fire in the belly

The business has grown and has more staff. How do I inspire them to love the business? SUZI DAFNIS answers.

“We have taken on more staff as our business has grown. How do I inspire them to love the business as much as I do?”


Suzi Dafnis answers: It’s rare that staff will love your business as much as you do, but there is a lot you can do to cause them to love it enough to make a great contribution.

Staff spend so much time at work (even if not as much time as the business owner) so it’s important that that time is well spent and both the business and the staff get a good return for time and energy spent.

Here are some basics that will keep staff loving your business:

Keep your staff learning and growing

Staff will ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Provide opportunities for them to learn skills that will benefit them regardless of their role, such as communication, teamwork, negotiation.

At Pow Wow Events we have a library of more than 200 books and audio programs that staff can borrow in their own time. If I think back to what made me love the companies I worked for before I started my own business, it comes down to loving the workplace that gave me the most opportunities for personal and professional development.

Reward the results and behaviours you want to encourage

Notice who performs well and reward that. Often acknowledgement is all that is required. More importantly, don’t tolerate behaviour or results that work against the team or the business. Staff will notice if the person slacking off is not reprimanded and may not feel valued for their own good performance.

Clear roles and training

Many businesses fail to provide adequate role education to new employees. Whatever the job, be sure to prepare an induction process for any new employee so that they know what is expected of them. Most people want to do a good job, so give them the best chance to excel by providing training, mentoring and guidance.

Organise the business so that people can be more creative

How easy is it for people to do their job? Do you have systems in your workplace so that any task/procedure has a predictable result? People don’t like to make mistakes.

They’ll love their job more if they are not scolded for getting things wrong – and systems/procedures (and of course training) can avoid this happening. You will get the job done that you need done, which then allows energy to be put on creating better ways to do things, and innovating.

Share the vision and inspire your troops

The vision for your organisation is not something that should be known only to you and kept in a file. Most businesses are created out of the desire to truly innovate, to create something never created before – and this can be an inspiration to your team.

What it is that you stand for? What are you striving to do? Sharing the vision can help you create a powerful asset for your business: a team that’s going towards the same goal.

Are you making a contribution?

As a business owner, obviously the bottom line is the most important thing otherwise there is no job for your staff. When I was in my early 20s I worked for Virgin. The company philosophy and the contribution it made to people outside the company was an inspiration to me as an employee.

Hire slow and fire fast

Sounds cruel? Many businesses will make a snap decision to fill a position, but hold off letting an ineffective or toxic staff member go, even when it’s obvious that both the staff member and the business would be better off without each other. Trust what you know, take responsibility for your decisions, and move on.


Suzi Dafnis is a director and co-founder of Pow Wow Events and is the National General Manager of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network, the leading organisation for women in business in Australia. Suzi has a deep understanding of marketing, events management and the art of leadership.


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