26 May 2021
Many people ask me if there are any simple things they can do to make their teams happier and more productive at work. Well there is, but before I answer that question, I want to reflect on the biggest challenge I face with many of my clients … they are too nice!
Often, when I am putting contracts together, my clients are overly generous with holiday or sickness provisions, or too flexible when it comes to working hours … but as a small business owner, your primary role is not to be liked; it’s to run a profitable business that grows, providing long-term, sustainable employment opportunities for your team ... and yourself
Also, these enhanced benefits may initially attract applicants, but once hired, the motivation quotient may be short lived, especially if other things aren’t right at work. Sometimes, it's better to start with the basics, adding more as and when the business grows and can consistently afford the increased costs
Why do I say this? I've spent a large part of my working life in the hospitality industry, which is well-known for minimum wage pay levels, unsociable working hours and zero-hour contracts. Yet whilst I worked for Marriott Hotels, feedback from our employees consistently placed our company in the Sunday Times Top 20 Best Big Companies to Work For from the 1990’s to the present day – why?
We got the foundations right:
So, if you want to engage your team and increase their productivity, what else can you do?
As one of my mentors said - "You can help your staff to bring their brains to work with them, rather than leaving them at home when they close their front door each day!"
Here are four areas you can focus on to do that ...
Do you have a vision for your business? What are your business goals? Have you shared them with your team?
In recent surveys, 41% of UK employees don’t feel in-sync with their organisation’s goals – we all need a purpose and to feel that we are achieving. It is also important that your staff feel able to align with your purpose and goals. If you want to engage your team, share your vision and goals; encourage them to get involved – get buy-in
So many times, we hide things from our teams – we don’t tell them when things are not going well in case they jump ship; we don’t tell them when things are picking up in case they ask for a pay rise
Only 42% of UK employees say that their employer is good at seeking out their views, which means that 58% of us are not good at this. Yet staff often spot or are aware of problems before their employer finds out – what are we missing out on here?
At least once a quarter, hold a State-of-the-Nation meeting with your whole team. Run through the big picture items – finances, sales, challenges, successes – educate your team about the business. And remember that communication is two-way: if you trust them, they will trust you … and start to volunteer their own suggestions and ideas; remember they do the job every day – they may see things that you don’t
But it’s your business, so you hold the reins – if their idea is good, take it up and let them own it; if it’s not, thank them and explain why that won’t be feasible at this time ... they may then go away and work out how will work
Another thing to look at is how work is split / shared – have people collected tasks organically or are job roles well defined; do you have round pegs in round holes?
Are you punishing your top performers by loading more on to them and rewarding poor performers by taking work off them … or is performance an open book, evaluated regularly, individually and in teams?
Do your team members know how their job role fits in and contributes to the whole; can they make a difference … or are they a robot? Currently, only 15% of staff are always enthusiastic about their jobs and 20% say they will voluntarily quit within the next year. By helping your team see the relevance of what they do, they will start to get more involved because they know they can make a difference
Finally, I want to talk about recognition – when was the last time you spoke to a member of your team about them as a person rather than them as a worker?
All of us want to feel valued; want to feel that what we do matters, and this is especially important at work. I’m not talking about bonuses or gifts, I’m talking about that warm, fuzzy feeling we get inside when we know we’ve done good. Talk to me about planned, spontaneous recognition if you want to know more!
So, if you need to re-define you business' purpose; need help with communication; need help defining team roles, let me know
Alternatively, if you want your team to bring their brains to work with them, please get in touch
Image by Jesse Martini on Unsplash