Employers are struggling to find talented employees at this time. Despite millions of jobs opened following the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are reluctant to return to work.
As an employer, that means maybe now is the time to rethink the way you do things.
You need your employees to be as productive and loyal as possible as you navigate an unusual job market.
You want them to be strategic thinkers and problem solvers.
When your employees think strategically, they will be more innovative, and they are always learning and working to improve, which translates into better performance at work. They can make informed, data-driven decisions, and they take calculated risks that are more likely to benefit your entire business. Strategic thinkers are also more inclined to take constructive feedback into account and incorporate it into their work.
With that in mind, below you’ll find ways to help current and future employees be more strategic thinkers for the benefit of your business.
Automate where you can
If you were to automate, for example, your accounts payable department with a software solution, it would not only reduce things like human errors, but it would give your employees the freedom to think more about problem-solving solutions.
When your employees are too bogged down in repetitive tasks that are not of great value but are necessary, then they are always doing the mundane. It keeps them from thinking on a higher level.
Many employers worry that their employees will resist automation, but that’s not the reality at all.
Your employees can do more with less and improve their productivity.
Audit some of the more repetitive processes that might initially benefit the most from automation and start there.
Cultivate an ownership mentality
There are many specific ways to get your employees to think like owners. First and foremost, empower them and empower them to make decisions. Autonomy and decision-making power are therefore essential to create a mentality of ownership among all your employees.
Put them in charge of something. Even something small that an employee can take care of will help them think like an owner in other areas.
You can also help employees take an approach more consistent with their ownership status by rewarding them financially. For example, when your employees, individually or as a team, can be successful and help promote the growth of the business, maybe you reward them with a cash bonus or some sort of profit-sharing agreement.
While you can’t always financially reward your employees, recognition is another way of rewarding them that will contribute to this ownership mindset.
Let employees do things their way
We talked about this a bit above, but it’s so helpful to let your employees decide how they want to do certain things. It’s empowering for them, and they are forced to be strategic about how they choose to approach tasks or projects.
If you have workflows that are too rigid or micromanage too much, then your employees don’t feel like they have the opportunity to be strategic, and that’s what guides your business culture.
You want your employees to be proactive in approaching things in the workplace, and again, letting them decide the best way forward, as long as they encounter the outcome, can help with that.
Likewise, you need to be very specific about the results you expect if you let the employees decide their own way of achieving it.
When you let employees make decisions, they don’t have other people to rely on to help them along the way, which helps them develop a sense of trust. Strategic thinking.
Give them time to think
Sometimes your employees can be so busy or feel like their time is so too programmed into the workday that they don’t have time for strategic thinking.
Set aside time slots where your employees have the freedom to think through and identify solutions, whether in groups or individually.
You might have a specific problem that you would like them to solve in the short or long term.
Mentoring is great for employees and employers. When you pair your top performing employees with a top-performing employee, then they can improve these so-called soft skills, including leadership and strategic thinking.
If your employees are currently working remotely some or all of the time, mentoring is especially important in keeping everyone connected to your culture and making sure you don’t overlook development opportunities for remote workers.
When your employees are matched with a mentor, they can see first-hand what a broad thinking can look like.
Be transparent and share information
If you want your employees to see the big picture and think more broadly, they need all the information available.
This is where you, as a business owner, are particularly relevant. You want to be transparent and share as much information as possible with your employees.
It will help them see things in a bigger way. Maybe you’re sharing your business plan for the future, or sharing some new information you just got from the database.
Either way, your employees can’t think strategically and make problem-solving decisions without all the relevant information.
While helping your employees to be more strategic in their thinking relies heavily on their freedom, there should be limits as well.
Let your employees know when it’s time to come over to ask you a question or have a conversation. Let your employees know how you prefer to be notified if there’s an issue they can’t fix.
Give your employees a framework for knowing what to do when they need help, and create an environment where they’re not afraid to contact you when needed.