Ross Cameron

Do you ever get the feeling that your staff just think they’re here to make you richer?

There’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’…

It is vital for small-business owners to ensure their staff are on the same team, sharing the same objectives.

“Everybody that works with us has an ownership stake. It may be direct or indirect via some shares or options, but everybody has some ownership. It makes them have a sense of realising that it may be small bickies, but every $100 counts.” (Services, 100-300 employees, 10+ years in operation).

“I’ve always found that Australians are very good workers if you can get them to bring their brains to work! Most of them want to be paid extra for that, though! Getting people interested and involved, that’s what small business grows on: the strength of the labour force and the quality of worker. Generally, people who work for small business are paid less than if they work for a multinational or similar company in the same position, but they do it for other reasons and they enjoy the commitment to the job if you can get them to that stage.” (Manufacturing, 20-50 employees, 10+ years in operation).

Many employees feel that the success of the SME is directly proportional to their own toil and suffering! That is, the business succeeds (and implicitly the boss “gets richer”) at the expense of employees. We see many SMEs in which the objectives of employees are completely out of alignment with those of the business owners. The quotes above are from businesses that realise this. What do you do, as a business owner, to ensure that your employees feel like they’re on the same team as you?



Bruce Joy writes: As my team is now seven people and growing, I’m keen to find out ways that offer real incentives but are affordable. As a business that focuses far more on internal and external R&D than the average, the cashflow is always tight and as we’re building towards spinning off a number of business lines, giving away company ownership is too expensive. I guess bonuses based on profitability make some sense from the business’s point of view, but I’m not sure whether to offer bonuses that are across the board or selectively pick out talent. Team isn’t about competition but you still want to reward those who make the most impact. Any suggestions?


Eve Ash, managing director of Seven Dimensions, writes: Not all rewards need to be monetary, eg involvement in a special project for developing extra skills, or travelling may be a great reward. Meet with the team and talk with them as often as possible. Involve them in the plans, invite their ideas (this makes for a rewarding workplace), and share the rewards — make it a combination of team rewards and individual rewards.



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