>Do you want to gain a competitive edge? Do you want to standout from the competition? Then invest in your people and create a culture where the best and the brightest are beating a path to your door.

I truly believe this is the most challenging economy we have ever faced. Sure we have known tough times – heck we survived the Great Depression, but we have never had so many facets of our economy moving at the same time. We have a challenging economy, we have global competition, we have technology that is changing the rules daily, and we have four generations of employees and business owners with different values and priorities working side-by-side. It is enough to make your head spin.

There are  lot of moving parts, and it is easy to feel confused about where to place your time, your money and your energy to move ahead of your competition and win new customers. In all this madness, there is one constant. One thing that never changes – the value of high quality people and the impact they can have on your company.

You have to hire right, and build the right culture so people can thrive and grow. Hiring right for me is simple – hire attitude. You want your team to get along, you want your employees to work productively, you want your customers to have an amazing experience? Hire positive, upbeat people and train them to do the job.

Once you hire right, you have to develop the right culture. One where the best and brightest not only want to work, but one where they want  work hard to be productive and remain a part of for a long time. You need to create a culture of acceptance, vision, trust and community.

Step 1:
Acceptance – understand that four different generations are going to have four different set of values and priorities. They enter the workforce everyday with different expectations and different ways of doing things. See the value in that. Don’t expect people to work and execute like you do, instead look at the talents they bring to the table and help them use those talents to enhance your company. Certainly help them overcome their challenges, but do it while simultaneously using their gifts.

Step 2:
Vision – your team needs a common vision and a common purpose. Without  it, they will work hard individually, but you will miss the value of a cohesive team. People need to know where the company is headed, why it is headed there, what their role is and why they matter.

Step 3:
Trust – the foundation of effective communication and employee retention. When trust is present, people do more than they are asked, work harder for you and produce more. To build a culture of trust you need to invest in your people, be honest and open with them, and commit to accountability.

Step 4:
Community – people want to belong, feel connected and be a part of something that is important and of value. Build a community and watch your team grow, work together and work harder. Encourage them to work in teams, provide coaching and mentoring, develop opportunities for them to meet and play outside of work. The power of relationship retains and develops your team.

An effective team is your key to your competitive edge. Your people are one of the only things differentiating you right now from your competition. Be the company that attracts the best and the brightest and you will the company positioned to move ahead in this economy.