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Business Growth Specialist and director of BreakThrough Business Solutions, Fiona Clark, told a TNG online meeting that business owners lead busy lives and they just want their teams to do a good job. But to make that happen, they need to take the time to decide what they mean by a good job; to understand where the team is at now and where they want it to be.
“Research shows that your staff want to know where the business is going. What are your vision and your mission? It is a relationship based on mutual respect and trust and open communication. Do your people feel they are part of the business? Are their ideas asked for and listened to? Do they feel valued? Are they rewarded for the hard work they do? What do staff feel when they come to work? What do they say about work when they are not there?
“Communicating your business direction is the difference between people who are 100 per cent behind you and those that just turn up. Staff will not be engaged if we do not communicate or involve them in business planning. Lack of leadership comes because we are far too busy. If you want people engaged, you need to involve them in the business.”
Fiona said that lack of engagement could also result when there is no clear career path. It doesn’t mean making them the next managing director, but it does mean helping them to understand ‘what’s in it for them’.
She outlined three key steps to building a high performing team in 2021.
1. Hire slowly, recruit well
“Even if there is no ideal person in the first intake of applications, take your time,” Fiona said. “Make sure they have the right attitude and are a fit for your team because you can teach skills, but personality is hard to change. The wrong fit person can change the dynamics for everybody.”
2. Train from the start and don’t stop
Fiona says a typical pattern is to provide training to recruits over a day or two and then everybody gets too busy and leaves them to get on with it after having shown them how to do the job once – that’s not a great start to building a high performing team.
“You want an excellent onboarding process. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and it does not take a lot of time. If you want your people excited and engaged, you’ve got to establish that right at the beginning. Our business has a structure for the first month. It does not necessarily need to be day-in-and-day-out but may include spending time with other staff members and upskilling regularly. If you get it right up front, they buy into the business.
“Ongoing training is important. I had one client where the accounts person had been in the role for more than five years. The company had recently introduced the accounting package Xero, but they had never trained the accounts person in the new software. Training doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are several podcasts, webinars and YouTube videos you can utilise in your training for just about anything.”
3. Involve your people in the business
Fiona urged business owners to think about their staff. What are their strengths? What are their interests and motivations?
“I say let’s operate the business like a mini corporate, which means we’ve got to have systems and structure, where everybody knows what they are meant to be doing. Policies and procedures give staff something to refer to and helps them be clear on how they are supposed to perform.
“Get to know your people by understanding what they want to be doing in one or two years. You may be a smaller business, but it always comes back to your staff wanting to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ Your job is to know what it is they love to do. What skills do they want to develop that can add value to your business?”
Fiona said that saying ‘thank you’ and recognising and rewarding them (instead of just feedback when things go wrong) is an integral part of building a high performing team.
“Developing key goals together motivates your team. By giving them key performance indicators, you give them something to aim for and something you can celebrate. If you’re doing it from scratch, perhaps start with goals and introduce KPIs slowly. It’s not what we do, but how we do it, which will impact cash flow, turnover and our ultimate success.”
Celebrating the win isn’t always about money or a bonus. For some, it may be a simple thank you or a fish on the desk or a little award.
Fiona said that while every business has issues that arise with people – people being people – every business owners should first look at themselves.
“Business owners are more often than not unconsciously competent. We are so good at what we do it is second nature to us – it just seems like common sense, but everybody is different, and we all have other competencies.
“Make sure you have clear policies and procedures you can guide somebody through step-by-step. Your people need to be clear about what you want them to do, or there will be issues. Part of this means holding at least a weekly formal staff meeting, or a short morning huddle, to make sure everybody knows what’s going on.
“Set your people up to be successful and thank them when they are,” she said.
TNG would like to thank Fiona for contributing to our online group and welcome you to contact her at https://www.bbsolutions.co.nz/