A shot of Neil Hershman, CEO of 16 Handles. Neil is a young white man with dark hair and light stubble. He is wearing a navy blue suit over a light purple collared shirt and holding a pink paper cup of vanilla soft serve ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.
Neil Hershman, CEO of 16 Handles, encourages friendly competition among employees. However, the competition should stay uplifting and avoid punishing those who don't place first. — 16 Handles

If you could create your own fantasy board of directors, who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, we ask an expert about how to encourage your employees to go above and beyond.

In this edition of “Ask the Board,” we’re excited to feature Neil Hershman, CEO of 16 Handles, a national frozen dessert franchise brand with more than 30 locations. Neil shares his tips on how to encourage your workforce to go above and beyond for your business.

At the end of the day, hard work is what leads to business growth and success. That’s why it’s essential to provide your employees with the motivation they need to prioritize your venture and do more than what may be listed in their job description. Here is how you can do so.

Develop a culture of camaraderie

It’s your job as a business owner to help create a workplace culture that fosters positivity, trust, and purpose. If my employees show up to their shift just to collect a paycheck, then we are failing as an organization, and ultimately our bottom line will suffer too.

Conversely, when employees' values align with our mission, they each feel a sense of belonging, and understand the purpose of each task and shift, then we all become more productive and happier. You can start with team building outings and holiday parties, frequent communication with employees, and clear and transparent corporate values.

Foster friendly competition

I've always been competitive and have made it a point to bring that into my workplace culture. We compete on little things—like who can assemble the soft serve machines the fastest, or who can upsell the most water bottles in a given month, and award employees with small prizes such as Amazon gift cards. Note that you do have to be mindful that the competition is uplifting—rewarding productivity but not punishing second or third place, as that creates a cutthroat environment where employees feel anxious and afraid to be creative.

Distribute seasonal bonuses

Rewarding high performance with financial incentives promotes the idea that employees are valued and can take part in the business growth. In the ice cream business, summer is definitely our high season and therefore the most stressful time for our managers and team members. Rewarding good performance, judged by customer reviews, manager inspections, and comparable sales, shows the employees that their hard work will pay off. This does help create a better culture as well, where even our newest team members know they can grow within our organization and be compensated for quality work.

It’s your job as a business owner to help create a workplace culture that fosters positivity, trust, and purpose.

Neil Hershman, CEO of 16 Handles

Offer constructive feedback and praise

A large part of being a manager is training staff and giving them feedback, either through formal performance reviews or informally within projects and tasks. Through my own experience as a leader, I have always found that keeping things positive, even when discussing areas for improvement, is so much better for employee retention and motivation.

While it is easy to be critical of employees and tell them they are doing something wrong, it is better to thoroughly explain that their work has been good, but you can recommend a different method that can lead to even better results, and it's worth a try. When managers notice employees' contributions to the workplace, and verbalize appreciation, it significantly influences employees' motivation.

Be selective in who you hire

Building the right team is important, and while terminations aren't the fun part of business ownership or management, it is important you don't surround productive and motivated employees with subpar coworkers or managers. If a problematic employee persists in the workplace after thorough retraining, feedback, and the opportunity to fix their mistakes, the culture will degrade and motivated employees will feel unhappy and underappreciated.

Hiring the right team, training new staff completely, including training on corporate mission and values, and giving new employees independence and room to learn will help ensure that the existing employees are surrounded by coworkers who are motivated to take part in growth and seek continual improvement.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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