Give yourself a hand. Your small business team does. An online survey conducted by Kronos Incorporated released in conjunction with National Boss Day celebrated in mid-October found most employees  – 69 percent – think their bosses set a good example for behavior in the workplace. Ethical, honest, collaborative, creative, empowering, innovative, dedicated, and trustworthy were among the positive attributes cited.

And don’t worry about being Mr. Nice Guy (at least not all the time).  That’s not what your small business team wants. Given a choice between working for a manager who is a high achiever but is demanding versus a manager who is nice but ineffective, 75 percent of employees say they would choose the high achiever. They also want to work for someone who invests in their professional development far more than they prefer a boss who makes the environment fun at 69 percent versus 31 percent.

Make the office environment a challenge

The survey underscores that the most important thing you can do for your small business team is to provide a challenging work environment where they can grow professionally. To do so, consider the following:

Let go: If you are hand holding your team too much, step back. Let your team take charge and figure things out. With a new year coming up, you’re probably planning new programs. Delegate the responsibility of launching and implementing them to your team. In all cases, be clear about goals and establish milestones so you are comfortable things stay on track.

Rotate assignments: Keep things challenging by changing assignments. It’s easy to get into a rut. By periodically reassigning jobs, your employees learn new skills and grow. That makes them even more valuable to your organization.

employees working togetherAsk for input: Throw a challenge to your team to come up with ideas for new processes and procedures, new products or service offerings. Also ask your team to explore better way to work, which can include providing a more flexible work style, moving operations to the cloud or implementing unified communications to manage your various communication channels and tools.

Set measurable goals: Work with your team to set measurable goals. Build in benchmarks and set times for periodic reviews. Don’t forget to acknowledge achievements. According to the Kronos Survey, hearing praise from you is what matters to most. Among respondents, 43 percent of employees prefer direct individual praise from their manager; while 25 percent prefer praise in front of their peers. In cases where there are layers of management, the remaining 32 percent favor praise to their manager’s manager.

Keep it honest and challenging to increase the engagement and commitment your team has to your small business.