Are you struggling to get your employees to care as much as you do?
Having happy and engaged employees who deliver results for customers means you can fade into the background. And a company that can thrive without its owner is a lot more valuable than one where the founder has to crack the whip constantly.
As an owner, it’s natural to care about your company’s success. You’ve got practical reasons: Your net worth and annual income are directly tied to your results. In addition, your company’s market reputation is intrinsically linked to your personal reputation. Therefore, it’s no wonder that you care deeply about how your business performs.
What about your employees? What are their reasons for wanting to go above and beyond to see your company succeed?
By default, your employees will care less than you because they have less skin in the game, and unlike you, they have the option of leaving tomorrow. Therefore, you need to artificially manufacture an environment where they feel like they have a stake in an attractive outcome.
Jack Stack is the world’s leading expert on making employees feel like they have skin in the game. He wrote the book on it, A Stake in the Outcome, in 2003, which was followed up by The Great Game of Business in 2013.
One of Stack’s core insights is that the best executives treat their business like it’s a giant game and encourage their employees to join in the fun. Think back to your childhood. You likely played all sorts of games just for the fun of them. Stack argues that we should make business a game to tap into our employees’ intrinsic love of a good contest.
Every great game, from football to rugby, has a scoreboard, so one of Stack’s tactics is to ensure all of your employees have a scoreboard for their job and know whether they are winning or losing at any given moment.
How Josh Davis Got His Employees to Care
In 2015 Josh Davis and friend Darryl Ee decided to start Speedee Transport, a trucking company specializing in shipping things that need to be refrigerated.
Brokering freight is all about gross margin—the difference between what you charge the customer and how much it costs you to hire a driver to move the stuff. Therefore, Davis created a virtual scoreboard for his employees, designing software that measured the gross margin of each job. The software gave each employee a very public, objective, and transparent scoreboard they could follow every day to know whether they were winning or losing that day.
Davis also tied his employees’ compensation to gross margin, so they had a stake in the game’s outcome. As Davis told John Warrillow in a recent episode of Built to Sell Radio, implementing his software enabled him to remove himself from the day to day and motivate his staff to grow the company armed with the information they needed to drive the business forward.
Making his business into a game, giving his team a scoreboard, and tying their compensation to the game’s outcome worked as Davis’s company grew from two to forty-five employees within two years, which caught the attention of an acquirer who made an offer to acquire Speedee Transport for a truckload in 2019.