Being smart about business means being smart about all aspects of business, including who you hire and keeping your employees connected to the bottom line. One objective to business success is to consider your employees as the bottom line.
While these economic times make it an “employer’s market,” this does not mean you want to take advantage of your employees or new hires, those you need to grow your business. You have to stay connected with your staff and allow them to share what’s working and what your employees consider stumbling blocks to get their jobs done effectively. The best way to do this is to hold regular face-to-face meetings. There are many great resources available online that offer useful questions to help you and your employees prepare for face-to-face meetings. A list of questions to get you started is available through the IMT (Industry Marketing Trends).
Depending on the size of your company, a good idea is to have a quarterly face-to-face meeting or at least a biannual meeting between you and each employee. Whatever questions you deem appropriate should already be prepared, handed out to each employee, filled out by the employee and returned prior to any scheduled face-to-face meeting.
The number of employees you have will determine if you, the owner, can meet with your entire staff or if you will need to use your management team to hold some of the meetings.
Why are face-to-face meetings so important to your business? This is the most effective form of communication. It ensures that what you need to say is actually heard by each one of your employees. This is also the time that an employee can voice his or her concerns about efficiency or whatnot, while also providing ideas to help improve business, that you may have not considered.
What is the value of spending time with each employee rather than having all staff busy focused on their tasks? If for no other reason, change happens. Regardless of the industry you serve and what type of products and services your offer, there is another firm looking to improve on what you do. They may decide to offer a service that improves speed, cost, customer service or something else. It is happening this very moment.
As business changes, so do the needs of your current and prospective customers. When your customer needs change, it's imperative to be one step ahead. Think strategically to improve products and services and the way they are delivered, before your customers look to someone else to become their new supplier.
To do this, a constant flow of clear communication must be maintained within your organization. Implementing regular face-to-face meetings allows your company's executive team and all employees to have the opportunity to make sure that every staff member understands what his or her priorities are today and what, if any priorities may have changed.
Overall, there is a time to listen (two ears/one mouth philosophy) and there is a time to speak. The best part about each is when there is constructive communication flowing both ways and employees come up with solutions to problems, a business can continue to succeed, staying close to customer's needs and providing the quality service you need your business to be known for industry wide.
Additionally, with effective communication, great employees continue to do high quality work when they are appreciated, feel like they are heard and given incentives (big or small) on an ongoing basis. A happier employee means a better worker. A better worker most often leads to a stable and growing bottom line.
Three Simple Ways To Appreciate Your Employees In Tough Economic Times:
1. Say "Thank you" - If you are not doing this already or are unsure if your employees hear this phrase, you should make this happen immediately!
2. Stick It To 'Em - Purchase a roll or two of stickers that you can find online. Have your company logo placed on the stickers along with a phrase of appreciation. Use the stickers as pieces of candy and make sure every employee receives one when they come into work one day.
3. You've Been Caught! - Allow employees to catch their peers doing something remarkable or of high quality that directly impacts the value of the company. Each month recognize these employees and showcase them as "Quality Employees of the Month." If you can, offer each a pair of movie tickets to a local theater, a gift certificate to a local shopping center or simply a check for $25, or whatever you can afford.
Be creative with the ways you appreciate your employees. The bottom line is communicate, appreciate and operate in an atmosphere that allows two-way discussion to happen daily, so that the quality of your employees' performance stays high and the your bottom line grows.