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Words are revealing. Take for instance “for” and “with”. Small seemingly innocuous, everyday words. However, how your employees use them can be telling. Do they say “I work for you” or “I work with you”? This difference can have a huge impact not only on your company’s morale, but also on its bottom line.

Every employer grapples with turning “for” into “with.” It’s the difference from having employees who go through the motions to those who are fully engaged. It’s the difference between employing a cadre of individuals on staff to engaging a highly functioning team.

So what’s the trick? How do you go from employees who work for you to employees who work with you? As a company based on teamwork, we thought we’d chime in on the subject. Here are six strategies you can use to foster teamwork and a corporate culture of with instead of for.

  1. Be clear

No one likes ambiguity, especially in a leader. Be clear with your company’s mission, employee expectations, and future goals. Be clear about why these are important and how they’ll be achieved. Don’t leave your employees guessing. Clarity inspires, motivates, and boosts employee buy-in. It instills confidence and security.

UCS’ mission is supplying small and medium-sized companies with flexible financing options. Everyone on our team understands this goal and how they contribute to it. We know where we’re going and what we’re doing. This is a huge contributor to our success.

  1. Watch your language

Language is powerful. It sends potent subconscious messages that directly affect how your employees see themselves and their place in your company. For starters, consider the difference between telling someone they work “with” you versus “for” you. Using the term “staff” as opposed to “team” can have huge repercussions when it comes to employee morale. Staff is dispassionate and objective. Team is inclusive and welcoming. This simple change has the power to create cohesion. Use it.

How you phrase job titles can greatly impact your team’s outlook and productivity. (https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/impact-job-titles-on-employee-engagement) We use words like specialist, expert, and assistant at United Capital Source (UCS). These are inclusive words that express how we view each individual and their skill set. It shows we value them, that we’re proud to have them on board. Statistics show using creative job titles ups employee satisfaction and productivity even more.

  1. Show you care

Studies show (http://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/what-engages-employees-the-most-or-the-ten-cs-of-employee-engagement/) employee engagement improves when they feel connected. In other words, show them you care! Celebrate birthdays, invest in career development, reward major accomplishments. Talk to them, learn their aspirations, find out what keeps them up at night. You’ve welcomed these people into your dream. Get to know them, help them grow, tend to their happiness. They will reward you with loyalty and productivity.

  1. Have fun!

All work and no play makes for lackadaisical employee performance and low company morale. Lighten up! Have fun! This isn’t frivolous advice – it could have a direct impact on your bottom line. Promoting fun in the workplace is a proven business tactic (http://www.inc.com/aj-agrawal/how-having-fun-can-boost-employee-productivity.html).

These are just some of the benefits of a fun work environment:

  • It improves employees’ mental and physical health, which translates into fewer sick days.
  • It inspires employee collaboration and group problem-solving. More teamwork!
  • It promotes creativity.
  • Increases job satisfaction and employee retention.

In short, happiness pays off. (http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-happiness/) Be it a walking meeting, a catered lunch, or tickets to a ball game, a little levity goes a long way.

  1. Talk amongst yourselves

Be it via newsletters, intranets or good old fashioned face-to-face meetings, keeping your team in the know keeps them engaged and onboard (http://www.inc.com/aj-agrawal/how-having-fun-can-boost-employee-productivity.html). Using internal communications provide a venue for learning, sharing, and singing praises. They keep the communications channels open and foster transparency. They provide a rallying point.

  1. Respect and dignity for all

This seems like a no-brainer strategy. A combination of common sense and politeness, right? Right. But it’s extremely easy to drop both during confrontation or discomfort, which will happen at some point. You and your team are human after all. Someone’s going to have a bad day. There are going to be misunderstandings. Imbuing your corporate culture with respect and dignity will make weathering those rocky moments less traumatic and time consuming.

Communications expert Melinda Guillemette offers another take on the respect and dignity concept. She suggests using L.O.V.E (http://www.melindamotivates.com/blog/Main/49-Know+What+L.O.V.E.+Spells?/): loyalty, openness, vulnerability, empathy. Words not usually associated with business, but highly effective once you adopt them. Why? Because you are in a relationship with your employees. Good relationships stem from and thrive on good communication. Good – and effective – communication requires L.O.V.E..

Your employees take their cues from you. For these six strategies to work, you have to lead the way. You have set the example, you have set the standard, you have to walk the talk. Your actions have to speak louder than your words. This above all else will inspire your employees to work with you instead of for you. So get out there! Start building your team!

Are you ready to give your team more support? Trying to figure out how to be more attractive to quality talent? We can help! We specialize in helping small and medium-sized business garner flexible financing they need to grow and evolve. You can reach our experts via phone at 855-933-8638 or you can use the Live Chat feature on our website. (www.unitedcapitalsource.com)

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