How to Give Your Business an Edge

Business seems to move faster these days. The rapid pace of business means that the improvements that your company makes, whether in its deal-making strategy, technology or services, become quickly known and duplicated by others. Your alleged competitive advantage becomes short lived. In today’s business world, the only real and long-lasting competitive advantage a company may have will be its relationship with its employees.

When your employees respect and trust their managers and leaders, they will want to please you, your partners and customers. Having a strong, supportive work force will provide you a competitive edge that cannot be readily duplicated. The “flip side” of your sought-after competitive edge is that when you, as managers and leaders do not merit the trust of your employees, the company is at a competitive disadvantage. Without a strong relationship of trust between management and employees, employee attitudes, productivity and effectiveness suffer.

When you and your company foster and establish relationships of trust with your employees, positive attitudes, productivity and effectiveness flourish. Here are a couple of “things” you can do to achieve greater successes in your workplace:

(1) Positive Reinforcement. Human beings crave positive feedback—it is our nature. Proper positive feedback inspires, and propels people forward. Accentuating the positive is not a simple process. It is a talent for some people and a learned skill for others. Some managers have no understanding, whatsoever, about the power of accentuating the positive. For example, I have a client that worked with a company for more than five years. During that period of employment, my client’s boss never (and I mean literally, never) said the words, “Good job,” (or any other similar words) to my client.

I understand that giving effective positive feedback can be difficult, because good performance and employee progress are moving targets. Yet, positive reinforcement will maximize performance, while negative reinforcement will produce, at best, only passable results.

Unless you are naturally talented in this area, providing proper positive feedback, at work or at home, requires study and practice. When you desire to learn more about accentuating the positive, here are a few resources for you to consider: Bringing Out the Best in People, by Aubrey Daniels; Whale Done and High Five by Ken Blanchard; How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

(2) Focus on Each Person’s Strengths. There is a story about a lady who went to a pet store to buy a pet bird, so that she could enjoy the musical chirping around her house. She purchased a beautiful songbird that she took home. For a couple of days she was thrilled with the lovely music provide by her new pet. One day, she noticed that the bird had only one leg. Angry and indignant, she took the bird back to the pet storeowner, complaining, “This songbird is defective. It has only one leg.” The pet storeowner replied, “Lady, you are going to have to make up your mind. Do you want a bird that can sing, or dance?”

Effective managers recognize that not everyone can be talented, skilled and knowledgeable in every facet of business or life. These managers have developed, through experience, coaching and training, the capacity to focus on each person’s strengths and manage around his or her weaknesses. Such managers are respected, build trust and are empowering. Those they supervise become more loyal and productive in the performance of their professional responsibilities.