Take a minute to think about your answer to the following question.

Your Farm or Food Business's Most Important Asset

How did your answer compare to your peers? Regardless of how you responded, if you chose one of the options above, you were wrong.

Your company’s most important asset is your PEOPLE!

Without employees, you can’t drive a profit…

Without profit, you can’t build the organization…

And without the organization, you can’t build a community.

People are your business's most important asset.

As my doodle above illustrates, it all comes back to your people. When you take care of your team, they will take care of you. Remember that commitment is a two-way street: If you want your employees to be loyal to you, you must first be loyal to them. As the employer, it’s up to you to take the first step in building a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

I’ve posed this question to a variety of business owners, and many of them have lost sight of the fact that human capital is their greatest asset. A farmer replies that her livestock is most important, while a co-packer responds that it’s his automated bottling lines. This loss of perspective is especially prevalent when owners become stressed. Then comes the “Aha!” moment as these leaders are faced with and accept the fact that their people are, in fact, their most valuable asset.

Below, I’m sharing a three-pronged approach that I’ve learned over the years and that the Kitchen Table Consultants team still uses today. The three keys are:

  • Include staff in the success of your business.
  • Treating employees as allies—not a burden.
  • Training and developing people.

3 Ways to Show Employees You Value Them

Don’t simply tell, but show employees how important they are to the success of your company with these three practices.

Include staff in the success of your business.

Include employees in your wins

As a business owner, you WANT people to participate in your company’s success and enjoy those wins along with you. To do this, you need to incentivize the desired behavior. You might provide profit sharing, bonuses tied to the company’s performance, or incentive-based compensation.

Say you’re a dairy farmer who wants your cows to be well cared for. You want them to produce the highest quality and quantity of milk. Who directly impacts this operation? Your herdsmen. Are they being paid a simple flat amount? Or is their compensation structure partly based on the quantity and quality of milk produced?

Align the interests of the people who are working for you with those of the company. One powerful way to do this is by practicing open-book management. Operating transparently and involving your team in wins, decisions, and problem-solving ensures their financial and emotional buy-in. 

Treat employees as allies—not a burden.

Treat employees as allies

I won’t sugarcoat it: Managing people is one of the hardest things about running any organization. I often say that if it weren’t for people, operating a business would be easy!

That said, ownership should not view people as a pain in the neck or a babysitting service. When that is the perspective, it often leads to micromanaging. Owners who micromanage see their employees as a “problem” that needs to be managed. The fear is that if they don’t monitor staff closely, they won’t do their jobs well—or possibly even at all.

Instead, look at your employees as an asset that will help your company move forward. Treat them as partners and allies. 

Train and develop people.

Train and develop your people

Growth and engagement are critical to creating happy employees who stick around long-term—which is why the most important thing we do as managers is to develop our people. If you’re looking for inspiration as you start thinking about new ways to develop your team, download the 5 Es by KTC.

Create a consistent training program that is thorough and documented. Every employer should empower their people to self-manage. 

For example, a food artisan could have a program in which new hires and current employees who have interests in other areas shadow other team members to learn different aspects of the craft and business. The plan would detail who they would be shadowing and for how long.

The key is involving your people so that they know you value them. Involvement breeds commitment. No matter their role or rank, employees need to understand their impact on the company. 

People also want development opportunities. They want the ability to learn and grow with the organization. After all, most of us have an innate drive to continue improving ourselves. 

Despite this, leaders often fail to use and develop their teams. A Harvard Business Publishing survey found that only 32% of global leaders are confident their organization has the necessary leadership talent and skills to achieve their strategic goals.

At Kitchen Table Consultants, we have learned that we must continue to show employees that they are valued and have a future with our company through learning and development opportunities. Our effort to put our people first has paid off, and we can help your organization do the same. Contact us today to learn how we can help you manage your most valuable asset: your people.