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Ladies' Launchpad / Kathy McShane

To some, being an entrepreneur means "doing it my way." After all, isn't this one of the major drivers to starting your own business? Well, for me, that was the case.

However, in order to get things done and to grow my business, I needed to motivate the people who were helping me with this quest. Many of the individuals who worked with me were consultants. As the company grew, I hired more employees. I found that regardless of their employment status, it was critical that they felt like they were part of the big picture. I knew I had to communicate how important they were to the process.

Here are a few others things that I learned along the way:

Be a real person: Respect people. Show that you don't know it all. Have a sense of humor and be sure to have empathy for them.

The buck stops here: When you hold yourself accountable, it sets the stage for others to be accountable. Be the role model. If you work hard and have some fun, employees will as well. Celebrate their successes and take responsibility for their failures.

Have an open line of communication: Let your employees know that you will celebrate the great things they do. When things are not going well, provide them with authentic feedback. Employees will respect this because there will be few surprises. I know this is not always easy, however, we owe it to our employees.

One size does not fit all: Be sure to have a clear understanding of each employee's strengths and weaknesses. No two people are the same and you certainly don't want that in your organization. Differences are a source of strength that creates great results. Set reasonably high goals. Allow them to succeed or fail on their own. If you have confidence in them, you will be surprised by the positive response.

Communicate: Keep employees in the loop as much as possible. Don't burden them with information that they don't need or shouldn't know. Too much information can be detrimental, particularly if they have no control over the outcome.

Use positive reinforcement: Set up a program that acknowledges employees for doing something great. Reward them as close to the incident as possible. I normally give them something that they can share with their family or significant other. Positive reinforcement is much more powerful that punitive actions.

Kathy McShane is managing director of Ladies Who Launch, Connecticut. She can be reached at kmcshane@ladieswholaunch.com or ladieswholaunch.com.southwestct.

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