This is the first in a four-part series on the importance of managing your business with the long-term perspective in mind. Too many business owners take a short term approach to their business and as a result never achieve the growth they desire. In this article, we will discuss the importance of long-term thinking while managing employees.

“Employees are your most valuable asset.”

We have all heard this before—but do you actually treat your employees as a valuable asset?

What are some of your most valued personal assets? Your sports car, perhaps? Maybe your motorcycle? Your golf clubs?

Whatever your answer was, take some time to think about the way you treat that asset. You regularly change the oil on your car, right? You clean your golf clubs and get them re-gripped, correct? And in return, you expect reliability and peak performance.

But over the years, I have seen firsthand that far too many business owners invest nothing into their employees—no teaching, no training, no correction.

And as a result, their employees don’t grow. They don’t get better at their job, they don’t become more effective, they don’t become more productive. They don’t develop teamwork and communication skills.

And it’s not because they don’t have the ability—it’s because the business owner doesn’t invest the necessary time and effort into training and developing them.

Your goal, as a long-term thinker, should be simple: find a way to get as much productivity and value from each employee as possible.

You don’t accomplish that goal by working them to the bone and constantly demanding more. That approach may stimulate productivity in the short run, but it will leave your employees exhausted, demoralized, and likely searching for a new job.

Instead, you must invest into their training and development, just like you invest into the performance and maintenance of your sports car.

Invest time in setting clear expectations. Let each employee know exactly what you expect from them—and communicate with them if they are underperforming.

Invest time into training. Don’t throw your employees to the wolves. Take the time to teach them your systems and your procedures.

Invest time into development. Most of your employees have the ability to grow within your organization. Identify talented employees and help them recognize and develop their gifts.

Invest time into relationships. Employee loyalty is priceless for a business owner. Loyal employees are trustworthy and typically consider the best interests of the business—not just of themselves. Make an effort to develop relationships with each of your employees. You don’t have to become best friends, but let them know that you care about them on a personal level as well as on a professional level.

Your employees ARE your most valuable asset—so take steps now to ensure that you are maximizing their value. You can’t do this by thinking short-term—the key to getting the most out of your workforce is to take a long-term approach to employee management.