As every entrepreneur understands, one of the most significant challenges to any business is money. Getting a business off the ground or through a growth stage requires capital and other resources. And while bootstrapping is an effective strategy to employ, it has its share of limitations.
With that said, there are several simple things a business manager can do to elevate the mood and productivity of his or her team -- all of which require zero credit and absolutely no need for an extensive, time and energy consuming fundraising road trip.
1. Give a compliment.
To a great extent, our work environment has become overly sensitive. We choose our words wisely and at times can be overly diplomatic -- which is not a bad thing -- but it can cause us to miss opportunities to recognize small things about others that could lift spirits. Never be afraid to offer a sincere compliment about a new hairstyle or pair of shoes or something accomplished outside the office.
2. Say 'thank you' genuinely.
We toss "thanks" around like cheap currency. Next time someone completes a task or does you a favor, show them your appreciation by looking them in the eye and saying, "Hey, Joe, I really appreciate you getting this done for me. Thank you."
3. Leave an inspirational note.
Whether on a note card for an individual or on a company whiteboard for all to see, a daily dose of inspiration can lift the mood of everyone who sees it.
4. Make someone coffee.
Next time you make a pot of coffee, deliver a cup to a team member. Bonus: Learn your team’s individual coffee preferences.
5. Take out the trash.
In a larger and growing company, most individuals do not expect the "boss" to complete mundane tasks around the office. By taking out your own trash, cleaning the coffee pot, or just wiping down the bathroom sink and mirror, you demonstrate that you are willing to get in the trenches with the rest of your team.
6. Be on time.
Being on time and even early to meetings -- especially those called by others -- implies you respect all members in the meeting and their importance.
7. Demonstrate integrity.
When navigating business challenges, always choose the path you would want the rest of your team to take.
8. Show extra effort.
Perfectionism can be a burden and sink enthusiasm, but by demonstrating a level of effort that goes beyond what you expect of yourself and your team, you set an example for everyone to follow.
Simple and effective and will boost your mood along with that of your team.
10. Maintain high energy.
Energy is contagious -- and so too is the lack of energy. It is not always easy to sustain high energy levels, which is why it is important for entrepreneurs to maintain a regimen of healthy eating, sleep and routines.
Being a great listener requires patience, practice and the ability to know when to shut off your own output, but it will earn you the respect of everyone around you.
12. Make eye contact.
Eye contact demonstrates focus and interests. It does not have to be creepy and uncomfortable, but at least avoid glancing at your phone or over the speaker’s shoulder.
13. Show optimism and enthusiasm.
Being honest and transparent with your team is important, but so too is knowing how to lead people through rough times.
14. Write a handwritten note.
Instead of sending off a quick and easy email, take the time and effort to write what you need on a note pad and deliver it in person. Also, every "thank you" note should be handwritten. The effort will be noticed.
15. Mingle with peers.
While open office layouts can improve collaboration and camaraderie, it is still important to "make the rounds" and mingle with your peers. You should avoid, however, using this time to micromanage or otherwise annoy everyone.
16. Use first names.
Dale Carnegie once said, "A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language." By occasionally (and correctly) including in conversations the name of the person with whom you are speaking, you demonstrate that you are focused and recognize them.
17. Offer to lend a hand.
While we should all avoid bringing personal problems to the office, keeping all issues out is almost impossible. If you hear rumors of team members having a difficult time, offer to extend a helpful hand -- even if it is just to listen to the issue.
18. Ask about their family.
Learn the names of kids, siblings and even pets and occasionally ask sincere questions about how they are doing.
19. Give a high five.
Personal and physical contact, such as a firm handshake or a hand on the back or shoulder, has long been shown to have a positive impact on communication. Of course, not all physical contact is welcome or appropriate, so know your limits. Just remember that high fives are generally recognized and universally accepted.
20. Be genuine.
While all of these tips can cost nothing, they will add zero value -- and could possibly have the opposite effect -- if there is no sincerity behind them.