Businesses are built on people more than anything else - products and services simply won't go to market and become a success without passionate and driven people behind them. As somebody who is in the recruitment sector, getting quality talent on board at all levels is a significant part of what I do.
It is therefore key to ensure you have the best possible employees within your business - but just as importantly, they need to be 100% committed to your cause. I have always said that one of the most important jobs of a leader is to get everybody else to buy into your vision for the company. From the day they join you should be explaining to them what the company and brand stands for, as well as your goals for the future.
No business, particularly the smaller organisations, can afford to have too many people that are simply going through the motions and collecting their pay packet. Employees need to be driven to help the business grow.
A good leader will know exactly how to get each member of staff motivated. Remember we all have different drivers so the one-size-fits-all approach isn't a good one to take. Take the time to understand what makes each person tick and what sort of managerial approach they respond best to.
Of course the importance of remuneration cannot be ignored. Wherever possible I have tried to link pay and bonuses to performance - that way the team will understand the importance of a strong and properly functioning business model. In other words, the better the company performs the higher the individual rewards will be.
You can also judge the commitment of your staff through sheer numbers. If you have a high turnover of staff then you know that there is an issue which you need to get to the bottom of. The exact number varies between industries; in the recruitment sector a turnover of around 15% would be acceptable but any more than that means there are deep underlying issues.
It is in the tough times that you really find out how loyal your staff are, and this also reflects your own abilities as a leader. When the pressure is on and you find yourself in a crisis situation, how many people are willing to go the extra mile for you? This will generally come down to two things - how you were perceived before the crisis, and how you behave during it.
If you are viewed as a manager who gives back to their staff, who wants them to develop and be happy, then they will perform when you most need them to. You don't need to be an expert in psychology to realise this, yet there are some managers who see their employees as just a number.
Likewise, once you are in the midst of a tough situation, it is crucial to be honest and decisive. Your staff won't want somebody who will try to skirt around the issues; nor will they want somebody unable to handle the pressure. You need to be strong and communicative - explain any key decisions if required.
I have never been a great believer in giving somebody instructions and expecting them to follow it blindly. To get maximum loyalty, you have to communicate clearly, regularly and honestly.
Follow James Caan CBE on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamescaan