Brilliant basics – Simple ways to manage and develop your teams in 2020
An ongoing challenge for most micro and small-medium sized businesses is understanding exactly what to prioritise. YES you can invest into designing new processes, YES you can focus all efforts on directly generating revenue, YES you can bring in the latest systems BUT… what’s the most of important part of your strategy? For me it has to be people.
Today’s blog aims to share some simple and quick to implement initiatives based on the projects that I’ve worked on over the last couple of years.
Why bother managing and developing your people?
Its quite simple. In most businesses your employees will be working directly with prospects and customers. They are the ones that can influence and impact your ability to acquire and retain your key revenue streams.
If you invest into your people then naturally you will reap the rewards of an engaged workforce such as: higher productivity, increased innovation, lower employee attrition and less absence days annually.
In a recent example one of our clients who are 80 employees managed to save £92,000 in one year, simply through investing into their people.
What risks to watch out for?
A common mistake that I have seen a lot of businesses make is assuming that their business problems are down to a poor reward structure. This typically leads to businesses wasting time and money on reward strategies that are always an interim solution. I’ve seen far too many instances where employers pay an extra £5,000-£10,000, just for the employee to leave 3 months down the line. This is a perfect example of not getting to the core route of a problem. I encourage all of my clients to get underneath the skin, understand exactly what the challenge is and then go through with their solution. This only applies if the pay being offered is competitive within the market.
Also, HR teams and anyone delivering people projects know that they will be fighting for budget with other business functions. All people related projects need a carefully crafted business case with a clear return on investment. E.g. when investing into an employee engagement system, you need to understand how many employees you will need to retain in order to get a return. E.g. if you save 2x employees at £8,000 each and the system cost you £10,000, then you will have an return on investment of £6,000.
5 FREE tips and areas to focus…
#1 Leadership style
When working in a micro or SMB business there’s a lot of pressure, usually based on growth and financial expectations – I know this, as I’ve been through the journey myself. However, one of the biggest mistakes that I see in these types of organisations is the approach to leadership. Whether it is a culture of micromanagement or a KPI obsessed business, both are going to have an impact on the productivity, motivation and engagement of teams. What type of business do you want to create – a future proof organisation that runs itself OR a money making machine that grows too quickly and is inconsistent? Here’s a few ideas around approaching leadership:
- ASK do not TELL – be curious, don’t judge or assume
- Develop your skills around empathy, delivering feedback and having difficult conversations
- Create and define a purpose that unites and motivates your team
I constantly bang on about the importance of feedback but given the fact that it is executed so badly in most businesses, I’ll continue to do so! Feedback is your opportunity to understand how you can improve as a business and will take you down the route of a bottom up culture, which is great for engagement and encouraging innovation. Here’s a few ideas:
- Quarterly employee engagement surveys – blend of qualitative and quantitative feedback
- Effective 1-1’s to work with employees around their performance and understand how the business can help them to do even better
- Workshops and focus groups that discuss and resolve key business challenges
#3 Career development vs Skills development
I regularly receive feedback from our clients that their employees want to develop their career, but what on earth does that actually mean? I’ve learnt over time that this typically falls into two categories and everybody wants something different. On one hand you have some members of the team who want to understand their development opportunities internally in the sense of promotions and growth of their role – creating clear development pathways and a succession plan will support you with these conversations. Other employees will want much shorter term development opportunities, typically around their own skills e.g. people management or maybe learning a new system etc. Both are really important but its about finding what works for the individual.
#4 COMMUNICATION! COMMUNICATION! COMMUNICATION!
Similar to feedback, communication strategies are typically non-existent or not effective in most UK SMB’s. Some businesses simply do not communicate, which creates a culture full of Chinese whispers, worry and lack of understanding. Other businesses over communicate and it becomes noise, rather than productive communication. You need to build a clear communication strategy and here’s a way that I’ve seen work well:
- Understand what your teams want to be updated on e.g. new starters, leavers, company performance, new projects and clients
- Learn about how frequently they would like to be updated e.g. daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly
- Agree on how they would like to be updated e.g. working group, morning huddle, monthly wrap up, intranet, newsletter or any other communication channel that you may use
When we talk about recognition, most of us think of buying our teams a new house, taking them to a 5* holiday or giving them a £25,000 gift voucher. However, the most effective recognition strategies that I have seen focus more on the sentiment and reason for that person being recognised that the reward element. Some businesses recognise their staff with e-cards, desk drops or other small gestures. Here’s a few ideas on what to recognise your teams for:
- Performance – quite an obvious one that most of us will already do. Somebody performs well so we recognise their good work. But you could also consider “leaders employee of the month” or “HR’s employee of the month”
- Living values – business values are great but they’re nothing without behaviours. A recognition plan gives you the opportunity to embed your behaviours and ensure that they become a key part of your business culture.
- Peer to peer – Finally, what better way to be recognised that by your peers? Growing up we all wanted to win the “players player of the year award” – this is the equivalent! The one thing to watch out for with this is to ensure it doesn’t become a popularity contest.
I have no doubts that most people reading this blog will have already implemented a number of the initiatives but how well embedded are they into your culture and are you measuring the impact that they are having?
I’d love to hear people’s thoughts so please get in touch with any questions or comments.
Employee Engagement & Client Delivery Consultant