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How Employees Make or Break Business Success (And How You Can Lead the Way)

ByLarry Alton, writer
Nov 16, 2015
Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
> Human Resources

A business is only as successful as its employees, and that goes for any industry.

Whether you’re a leader in an office, a retail store, or on an online business, the rules of leadership apply.

Even the most amazing employees need direction and encouragement to succeed.

This kind of guidance is absolutely paramount to maintaining a positive atmosphere at work – which, in turn, will boost productivity.

Related Article: 6 Ways to Prevent Employee Burnout

Take Advantage of Everyone’s Strengths

Gallup developed a strength assessment test to help business leaders everywhere learn about what makes their employees tick. Based on an aggregate of employee survey responses, the idea behind the assessment is that playing to everyone’s individual strengths makes for a stronger workplace.

According to the survey, 40 percent of American workers whose managers ignored them actively disengage from work, and only 2 percent felt engaged at all. Only 22 percent of employees whose managers mostly gave negative feedback actively disengaged, but only 45 percent of workers felt engaged.

While any attention is better than no attention, positive attention – as when an employer focuses mainly on strengths – is the best of all. Among this category, 61 percent of survey respondents felt engaged with their work, and only 1 percent were actively disengaged.

Plain and simple, focusing on your employees’ talents boosts your bottom line. Employees who primarily use their strengths at work feel less stressed and physically and emotionally healthier. This increases their productivity and also supports positive engagement with clients and customers.

Hold Employees Accountable

Accountability can be an unbelievably useful management tool, but only if you develop a system for doing so. If you tell an employee that they’re accountable for their actions only after they have taken action, you’ll only confuse and potentially disappoint them. It’s too late for your response to have a real impact at that point in time.

However, if you spell out your precise expectations ahead of time, every member of your team will understand the standard of work for which they are responsible. When they know exactly what they’re supposed to do, you can trust that they’ll know how to follow through.

One way to help people know where they stand is to implement time tracking. While some employees do “pad their hours” on their timesheets, you’d be surprised by how many underreport the time they spend working on a project – or, in some cases, how many don’t bill for overtime because they want to please their bosses.

Not paying employees accurately for their time isn’t just bad practice – it’s actually against the law. By implementing an automated system, you won’t have to make them feel like Big Brother is watching – and you’ll actually improve overall efficiency by seeing how much time the team devotes to each task and where time might be better spent.

Keep a Feedback Loop Open

Did you know that only 2 percent of leaders provide feedback to their employees on a regular basis? A major part of developing a successful team is opening a feedback loop. Employees need to know where they stand.

If someone is lagging behind their teammates, have a conversation with that person early on; this will keep them from being confused when it’s time for quarterly reports. On the flip side, if someone has done an amazing job on a project or has improved tremendously in some aspect of the work, let them know. Otherwise, how will they know to keep up the good work?

Related Article: Creating An Employee-Centric Company Culture Will Not Be The Death Of Your Business

It’s just as important to be transparent and open to feedback on your end. Employees should have room to comfortably and respectfully voice any thoughts or concerns. When you hear from them what’s going well and what might need to change, you’ll have a better sense of how your business is running overall.

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Larry Alton
Larry Alton
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Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. A graduate of Des Moines University, he still lives in Iowa as a full-time freelance writer and avid news hound. Currently, Larry writes for,,, and among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. He pursued his undergraduate degree in English Literature and transitioned to freelance writing full-time upon graduation. The years he spent studying and working the corporate daily grind prepared him well for his work with,, and A featured writer with, and, he’s positioned himself at the top of the tech writing field and is known for “translating” industry jargon into easily digestible, readable content. Particularly interesting fields for Larry include digital media, thought leadership, any and all things Android and iOS, entrepreneurship and social media. Connect with Larry on Google+ or in the comments section on any of the sites where he’s featured.
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