Cultivating an emotionally secure work environment at Brand Fuel is a non-negotiable. This is something I have come to respect over 20 years of co-owning/co-running this place. Admittedly, I have not always made the best decisions about investing in employees, but I have learned many lessons along the way. And I am still learning. For what it is worth, here are some tips and tricks:
Lesson 1: Inspire and empower versus command and control.
Lesson 2: Help your team prune the intake of information, meetings, projects, etc. or they might end up with scarcities in more important areas like well-being, financial security, self-esteem and optimism.
Lesson 3: The small things really matter. In particular, recognize deserving staffers publicly.
Lesson 4: Ensure your decisions are both fair and consistent for everyone.
Lesson 5: Having coworkers say, “I love you” and giving hugs in the workplace are deeply connected to productivity and fulfillment (aka retention).
Lesson 6: Show them that their dreams and their day jobs can coexist.
Lesson 7: I have always been told that you shouldn’t/can’t be friends with your staff. I disagree.
Lesson 8: Hold them accountable. However, this fails if you can’t hold yourself accountable.
Lesson 9: Hire “People Developers,” not Managers.
Lesson 10: Always ask for a trusted second and third opinion from your staff.
Lesson 11: Kindness is a foundation for everything. It rewards the giver too.
Lesson 12: If laughter is missing in your workplace, hire a comedian.
Lesson 13: Listen. Really listen.
Lesson 14: Do what you say you are going to do.
Lesson 15: Hire people who either have an existing friend at work or you are pretty sure will make friends with others.
Lessons 16: Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Lesson 17: Don’t react in a heated situation. Put your thoughts on paper and let them simmer for 24 hours. The outcome will be better if you pause and think versus react.
Lesson 18: Honesty with no filter might feel risky but they will respect and trust you more.
Lesson 19: Criticism is hard to give and take. Criticize anyway – in the right spirit, for growth.
Lesson 20: Familiar is forgettable. Some things unique to Brand Fuel: Valentine’s Day off. Full album Fridays. 4 Hours of Silence. White elephant costumes. Hair chairs for tardiness. Bands in the showroom. Dogs at work. Air Horns. Guinness World Records. Freshly squeezed water. Outrageous office pranks. Kindness containers. Rocket Days. Compliment Circles. Waffle House Halloweens.
Lesson 21: Do less barking and more wagging.
To those I’ve helped and those I may have hurt along the way, thank you. Thank you for giving me a little grace and understanding as well as the chance to learn from you and impact your life.
I’d like to finish this blog post with a special shout out to the two people who I have learned the most from over the years: Allison McLain, our General Manager and Robert Fiveash, my good friend of 30+ years and business partner – Thank you both for your patience and for making me a better employer and person.
Co-owner, Brand Fuel