Building a healthy, thriving business is all about growth and supporting new ideas. Not every new idea is going to fly like a well structured kite, so your primary goal as a leader should be to make room for lots of ideas. Safe sharing is critical to business growth.
In addition to supporting the flow of ideas, you need to hire folks that know more than you. If you tend to be a control freak, you may have to pay these folks to train you on the basics of what they do so you can back away and let them work. However, if you are hoping to hire folks who can work autonomously and constantly keep checking up on what they are doing, you may lose them.
Hiring folks who need micromanaging is a poor decision. Micromanaging people who hate being tracked is a worse decision, because you will either train them into not working autonomously, or you will drive them away. Of course you should stay in contact. Of course you should set milestones so you can track progress. However, if folks can work independently, let them.
Listen to your customers. If someone from your organization has done a great job, find a way to thank them for what they did for the reputation of your business. This may be a public acknowledgment, or it could be a private thank you. Employee acknowledgment can be tricky. For some folks, a thank you card will mean a great deal. Folks who are very gregarious will love a public thank you at a formal event, but for a quiet employee, that could be torture.
Finally, if a regular client contacts you with a problem, make sure you act on whatever has made them unhappy. You may not be able to completely fix the problem, but acting on it and demonstrating the change that you made happen quickly is critical to maintaining that relationship. Getting a negative review, an email or a phone call is a gift. Too often, customers will simply switch to another provider or supplier and you never hear what the problem is until it is too late to fix it.
If you own your own business, it is important that you keep you and your employees happy. This will benefit everyone, as you will be able to see the difference in employees’ attitude, work, and positive relationships in the office. Little things add up so for starters you can make sure that everyone has food and drinks that they love in the break room. For example, there is nothing better than taking a break from a long day and making yourself a great cup of coffee. There are easy ways to order gourmet coffee online as well as other foods or drinks so you don’t have to worry about frequent trips to the store.
Loyalty to your employees is important, but it can strangle you if it goes too far. If a former star employee has gotten
- lazy or ineffective
you have some tough conversations ahead. You will need to find out what soured them, whether the problem can ever be fixed, and how to avoid it happening ever again.
What are the symptoms that an employee is going south?
1. They go from going the extra mile to only doing what is necessary to get through the day.
2. They stop communicating, asking questions, or making suggestions.
3. They get lazy and start to avoid the big projects, or they disappear when emergencies crop up.
4. Attention to detail disappears.
As soon as you start to see these symptoms, it is time for a conversation. Find out why, and be ready to give this conversation to another leader in the business if the employee is not comfortable having this conversation with you. Fix what you can, but be ready to terminate if there is no coming back from the problem.
If you know that there is a shortfall coming up, or if you have the chance to make a large investment on an improvement that will allow growth, be ready to access credit to fill up the coffers. Act before the shortfall. You are better off paying a bit more in interest to cover a loan than running out of cash. Once you are out of money, getting more from a lender will be extremely difficult. If you have outstanding invoices and the delay means your bank account is empty, you will need to make plans to cover that shortfall.
Business, like life, is all about relationships. Bad news is tough to hear, but in the current climate, getting a chance to fix the problem is actually a gift. Do everything you can to keep communication lines open.