If you are a business leader, you’ve been navigating some truly challenging situations in the past few years. From shutdowns to remote work to spiking demands for products and services, it can be difficult to keep up both with employee needs and customer demands. The tips below can help you feel a bit more in control.
Prepare Your Employees
Some spikes are known factors; if you design, build, and market toys, each aspect of your business will face different pressures around the holidays. If your business is all about finances and taxes, March and April are going to be busy.
However, if you find that a new offering or product line is ramping up more quickly than you intended, you may need to address this sudden pressure a bit differently. Do your best to honor the current approved schedule, such as existing vacation requests, but be ready to offer a bonus to the folks contributing to the new pressures or the new deadline, especially if you have to block others from taking time off.
Staffing professionals are often scrambling to find skilled workers, particularly with the option to work remotely on the table. Make sure your hiring team has the best up-to-date information from staffing conferences in 2022 so they can present the best face of your company to those looking for work.
Do make sure that your staffing team has access to flexible hours. They may be interviewing people and reaching out to potential employees who live in a different time zone or live the life of a nomad. Parents of young children may be happy to start working at 4 a.m.; tending a baby can actually make an international search more effective!
There is something especially effective about writing things down on a list and crossing it off when you’re done. A productivity journal doesn’t have to be digital, especially tidy, or even clearly legible.
If you’re asking your sales team to boost their production, ask for a log of incremental changes, such as
- increasing their call rate
- making one more meeting a week
- attending one more online event
- closing one more deal
Of course, you will get some pushback any time you ask people to change their work habits. However, you may be surprised to find out that there are a lot of employees who already track their projects on paper first.
When you need to generate a large bump in products or services in a short amount of time, ask everyone to level up. If you have low-level employees in a particular department that have been reliable and consistent, invite them up a level in terms of their daily tasks to free up a higher-level employee to do more or learn a new task.
Training your own next level of employees can often be cheaper and more impactful than hiring a newbie with the schooling but not the experience. If you find that the employee you tried to level up has the will but needs more training, make time for the training as soon as the critical spike is met. Act while the work is new and challenging. Make sure there’s room in that training budget for something special; bring in a meal for digital training or allow travel time and a decent per diem budget for out-of-town travel.
When your business hits a big deadline or meets a necessary spike, celebrate! Don’t schedule the celebration at the end of the big deadline day; everyone is likely tired and may be missing their family and non-work friends.
Instead, try to book part of an afternoon for something special. If you’re open until 5, close down at 3:30 and bring in food. As appropriate, allow an adult beverage or two. If some employees cannot attend, offer a gift card for a meal out.
Preparing for and enjoying a successful spike deadline will take all hands. If you’ve never surveyed your employees for ideas on a favorite treat, from a special coffee to their favorite restaurant, get one made up so you have that data on file. Finally, a sincere and in-person “thank you” can go a long way.