Happier workers make a better, stronger company

As founder of a product-based company, General Electric co-founder Thomas Edison probably wouldn’t be surprised that one of his long-time associates, Thomas Watson Jr., has made it to the top of the company he built.

However, J.B. Magid says he couldn’t have succeeded in business without realizing that not every employee was going to be a star. “When I first started,” he says, “I didn’t recruit human capital, I recruited potential talent.” He hasn’t spent a dime on a marketing campaign for LifeSafety C.E.O. Sarah Pedersen; instead, she has amassed a fan base of employees on social media, a considerable advantage for a company that requires employees to train clients every day.

C.E.O.s give credit to the founders, friends and mentors who have helped them along the way. Barbara Palmer at FamilyShare shares her gratitude for former colleagues who helped her feel safe on a final year’s sale pitch at GE. “I’ve been working really hard,” she says, “so I wanted to tell them my struggles and little bits of advice I received.” After hearing her story, though, one staffer told her, “Only come to work when you are ready to die.”

Women entrepreneurs say they are especially thankful for growing up in the same region where some companies are located — and say they feel more part of the Bay Area than some of their male colleagues do. “Every [woman] I know in business … she’s very happy she’s from this area,” says Bonnie Yurman, a serial tech entrepreneur. “She has a city that’s different.”

Elliott Pelikan of InsuranceQuotes.com writes that he tends to start well-intentioned trouble-shooting sessions with his team members. This time, though, instead of flagging an area of weakness, he wants to eliminate a miscommunication caused by one employee being verbally aggressive. “If I’m totally honest,” he admits, “I did get emotional on the plane.”

An employee adds that the best way to thank a co-worker is to be open with him or her. “Is there a way you can credit the co-worker who is the most helpful?”she asks. Acknowledging another person’s contribution to a job isn’t just a token act, she adds. It also shows respect for the company culture.

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