One of the challenges of running a business is to continue to grow and innovate once your business is established. Just maintaining your existing business can be all-consuming, and growth and innovation can go on the back burner.
This is where our team has become our secret weapon; empowering them to improve and innovate has been essential to our growth. There are countless ways to motivate your team to stimulate growth, but here are four that have helped us double in revenue every year for the past seven years.
Communicate the vision
For a long time our team was a small start-up team, who were involved in most of the decisions the company took. As we grew to over 120 staff, that involvement and knowledge became harder to achieve. We had to formalise the culture that had grown organically into a set of company values. Our values went back and forth within our team for over a year to get to a final version, and they’re now used as a key decision making tool throughout the company. The trick was to reflect what our values actually are, rather than what sounded good. That took a while, but the good news is that once we got them they became incredibly valuable. To give some context, in a recent employee satisfaction poll 73 percent of the team cited the values as a key reason they worked at Envato. Our experience has been that team members who feel engaged and believe in the vision work harder and smarter because they want to make a difference.
Empower your Employees
The us vs. them mentality of rigid top down structures is (hopefully) being eradicated with the rise of more lateral hierarchies. Our projects involve small teams with all members sharing responsibility for product decisions. Team members feel heard, and stand behind the decisions management make. Not every business model will suit team participation in decision making, but incorporating it where you can will impact your team’s engagement and help them feel empowered. A team is always more motivated when they understand and believe in the journey the company is taking.
“Work smart” is an overused and broad description, but if I do my version of work smart I can get a lot done – even in a short time. The trick is figuring out exactly what “Work Smart” means. I find it helps to ask myself: If I only had one year left to do everything on my lists would I be satisfied with what I’m spending time on today? The end goal is to eliminate the trivial and inane tasks which you can easily get bogged down in. Cut out time wasters like unnecessary emails, distractions and low-yield tasks, and you will have a lot more time for the important stuff. Once you’ve done this, the key is to coach your managers to do the same. Taking the time to do this will help them see how they and their teams can work smarter. Nothing empowers someone like feeling effective!
Keep lines of communication open
Running a business is time consuming. It seems there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. One struggle I’ve had is to realise that talking to my team is some of the most important work I can do. By coaching and supporting them I’m assuring their effectiveness, and that trickles down throughout the whole organisation. It’s also a great way to hear ideas and eliminate inefficiencies or pain points. An employee who feels can be honest will you will tell you when tasks are useless or a time sink, and that can be really difficult to see from the top of an organisation.
You also hear some amazing ideas from your team when they just have the space to tell you. Our team have been responsible for many of the big ideas which have driven Envato’s growth over the years, and the knowledge a colleague has spearheaded an idea has driven the whole team to perform.
Recently, a team member described Envato as “big enough to be making a massive impact on the world, small enough to get 15 minutes with the CEO”. That culture and energy is what we’re striving to maintain. Developing a thriving and innovative business is an evolving journey and it’s consistently challenging, but it’s also exciting and rewarding.