We have this certain love for risk takers. Maybe it’s this notion that they hold some instinct or hidden truth that everything will be alright. Regardless, we have an admiration for those who take the path less traveled, but that can come with a price. And when it comes to working for someone that goes for risk, our perception of the practice changes drastically.
Granted, this makes perfect sense considering that someone’s job could be on the line, we tend to skew more conservatively. On the flip side, when your employees do believe in the risks that you’re taking, that belief can be rewarding in itself. All it takes is a little confidence in your vision, and keeping up with that stride, which starts with defining the decisions you’ll make.
Believe it or not, there’s a scientific definition to what risk as a leader actually means. Even though we might typically think of it as a “big risk, big reward” type scenario, that description barely scratches the surface regarding how we examine behaviors abroad.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Julie J. McGowan of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, defining risk taking can be broken down into four parts: high risk/low reward, low risk/high reward, high risk/high reward, and low risk/low reward.
In this model, we can work through multiple scenarios to which we can assess each decision made by a leader. I’ll note that one important aspect Dr. McGowan’s points out is the awareness of risk taking by leaders. According to the study, nearly 50% had felt they made a decision without fully thinking through if it was risky or not.
Of course, this behavior is somewhat normal, as most business owners make decisions on new challenges without thinking twice. What this really boils down to is two things: is it driven by your vision? And if so, does it help you and your team reach that goal?
Building A Vision
While it might seem like a buzzword or corporate jargon to some, a company’s vision is a very real thing. It’s the mission that defines your business’s purpose, as well as where it sees itself fitting into the landscape of its respective industry. Usually established by the founder or current CEO, your vision is going to be what drives the important decisions you need to make. This is going to set the bar for how your employees perceive not just you, but the business in general.
In a recent study by Gallup, only 27% of employees believe in their company’s values and visions. In a lot of cases, this can make perfect sense given that when you’re working for a firm with hundreds, if not thousands of employees, it can be hard to feel a connection to the overarching mission. However, a big portion of having your employees believe in you is having a belief in them, which is heavily dependent upon your company’s culture.
The culture of your business is going to dictate a lot of different factors, including employee happiness, turnover, and work-life balance. And if you want people to believe in your vision, these are all factors are going to be necessary to thrive. In a study conducted by Columbia University, firms where employees felt there was a high company culture had a turnover rate of just 13.9% versus 48.4% for those that felt their company culture was low.
When you break it down, having those that have been at your company for a few years are going to have a knowledge base of current, past, and possibly future practices, as well as have seen the growth trajectory of how things are going. Quite simply, they’ve shown a dedication into helping figure out where the business is at and headed, and their opinions on it should be weighed heavily. And if you want to have them around from entry to exit, then it’s important to reward them as time goes on.
Keeping Them Around For The Long Haul
Employees will believe in the risks that you take if you share the rewards with them. This starts from the top down, from your board members all the way down to your interns. Everyone should be getting a piece of the pie, as it’s going to ensure that they have confidence in your end goal and how you’re going to reach that point. And with employee turnover in the month of May coming in at 5.7 million people, it’d be a good idea to start assessing how you’re preventing them from becoming a part of that statistic.
While it’s the nature of a business to see people come and go, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scale back on your vision or the risks you take to go there. However, if it’s a repeated thing, and they cite that it’s your behavior causing the leave, then start assessing how you can change. Overall, the end goal is to build a team that feels as dedicated to success as you are. What are you doing to take them there?
By Deep Patel
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