I am sure everyone has heard the adage, “You get out what you are willing to put in.” While this usually is applied to cars or a home remodel, it holds very true in the workplace.  The amount of work put into your employees is equal to the amount of work that you get out. This is especially true in a small business. I don’t mean literally the amount of work you do for them, or wages paid, bonuses, etc, although those things undoubtedly have an affect. I mean the amount of “work” you are willing to put into your employees to give them that sense of team. The sense of empowerment and loyalty you can build within your employees is a force that can move mountains.

Creating an environment built on understanding, trust, and mutual respect is key to a successful business. When you show your employees that they are valuable, and build a friendship, I can almost guarantee that you will see an improvement in productivity and client satisfaction. They will rally behind you and help you out even if this increase in work or hours has no direct financial benefit to them.

Anyone who has read a few of my blogs is probably aware of my fascination with the vast field of psychology and its application.  It makes this workplace dynamic of a small business a virtual controlled playground available for constant observation by me.  I enjoy seeing theories, principles, and abnormalities I have studied come to life in situations between my colleagues everyday.  As I have witnessed these countless interactions, I have compared and contrasted the many stories my friends have told me about their work experiences as well. Not all of the stories I have heard from my friends have been great, but it has allowed me a way to see my own workplace through a more objective perspective.

I am proud to report that Atomic has shaped a very loyal and hard-working group of employees.  They do a great job of making everyone feel included, important, and equally valued. This group was not solely shaped through monetary rewards or other incentives, but through the amazing benefits of team building exercises and cultivating an individual relationship with every employee. For example, Friday “think-n-drink” is a favorite team builder amongst everyone. Every Friday afternoon at Atomic, we shut everything down and gather in the development room at 4pm. As the name hints, we usually enjoy a beer as we chat and laugh together about random topics and funny things our clients have shared with us throughout the week. Sometimes we have team exercises to learn more about each other, sometimes one person will prepare a presentation to teach the rest of the office more about what they do, or we will just play board games. We always have fun, and it definitely is a little treat that Jackie and Stephen have developed as a reward for a good week of hard work.

In these Friday meetings, they always point out the “wins” that some of us have had, whether it’s a client compliment or a new sale.  We discuss issues we have faced, how we will fix them, and get everyone refocused on our goals. We are always reminded that “we are in this together”, which is the big picture behind team building.

It may sound rather Jerry McGuire, but it is activities like this that make each one of us work our hardest, so that we can make our company as successful as possible. It is important to remember that your employees are parts of a living system; working independently, yet so reliant on each other to move towards accomplishing one goal.  When you provide positive reinforcement, allocate team building time, and afford them the mutual trust and respect that comes with friendship, you are keeping the gears of your business well oiled. With continued maintenance, you will see the fruit of your labors and how what you “put in” becomes shadowed by what you “get out.”

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