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Most of us have seen the endearing pictures of sea otters holding hands as the lie on their backs and drift serenely in the water. They hey hold hands so that they don’t drift apart. They are also are known to hold hands in groups – called a raft – while they eat, sleep and rest, to prevent families losing each other.

Most of the time when I am with my wife (we are in our 29th year of marriage), we hold hands. While in the car, watching TV, walking anywhere, falling asleep. This is a privilege for me – to hold the soft, loving hands of my adorable wife. But how does that apply in business? I’m not suggesting you hold hands with your employees and partners unless you want to – this is, of course, an analogy.

Do we “hold hands with” – that is communicate regularly, support, encourage, motivate, guide, mentor, help, and correct – our employees, vendors, clients, and business associates? Do we have systems and procedures in place that will help us to remember and avoid favouritism and neglect? Do we provide group training to encourage adhesion, loyalty, companionship, and support?

One can make wise use of group dynamics to help new and old employees to bond and to be understanding of each others foibles and idiosyncrasies. We can use joint ventures, strategic alliances, and collaborative, reciprocal marketing to “lock in” our empowering relationships and loyalties with suppliers and even competitors. We can strengthen teamwork and improve the amount of time people work with us.

But this takes effort, like any marriage or relationship. People want to feel special and appreciated. They want to feel that they belong, that their opinions are taken seriously, and that their employers care about them. And money is only about seventh on their list of their priorities. To hold their hands and develop them, you need to know the people you have recruited. You need to know who best to recruit in order to strengthen your team and their productivity. How much do you know about your vendors and customers and business owners? Can you find their hands to hold?

So next time you look at your hands, ask yourself if you’re holding the hands of your team. Start with your family.

Robin Elliott LeverageAdvantage.com