Guest post by James McCaffrey
In a recent conversation with a young entrepreneur, I asked what their biggest challenge had been to date so far. Surprisingly the answer wasn’t in relation to finance, tax or accounting. It was HR and people management. On reflection perhaps it’s not surprising. When we use the term ‘running a business’, we forget it’s a blanket term for a more complex operation that encompasses many different areas. Businesses do not run themselves, and so running a business is largely about (depending on your size of course) managing people.
The young man went on to emphasise that although ‘cashflow is king’, not having adequate communication channels in place, failing to treat staff well and taking care of their wellbeing could prove equally detrimental to any business. If you have a team of people who feel motivated, who feel they have a stake in your business and feel a sense of responsibility to the company, then you are more likely to foster a working environment that’s productive, progressive and a pleasure to work in. If you have a team of people who are feeling demotivated, are only working for a pay check and feel no vested interest in your business, then the chances are that productivity will be lower and it’s likely to affect areas such as customer service or even the synergy you have within your team.
It’s an area that’s spoken about often, and all too often poorly executed. There are people working together who have no idea about the roles of their colleagues, people working on projects that they have not been adequately briefed on, people locked in conversations all day in email chains where multiple people are cc’d in but no one remembers what the point of the first email was or what the discussion is about. The key to working together, is actually working together. Instead of pinging emails back and forth, grab five with your team to make sure everyone is on the same page. In essence; don’t get lost in the hazy world of e-communications, actually speak to your team and help create a great working culture.
Brainstorms are great for business, they create a space for dialogue and amicable debate in your team as you exchange ideas. They are a great way of involving your team, helping them to feel valued, and also encouraging people to contribute to discussions. Brainstorms facilitate dynamic learning, as bouncing ideas around with colleagues will often expose you to ideas that you may not be aware of. Encourage everyone to contribute in an environment where all voices and perspectives are respected. Also, people are more likely to turn up and feel at ease if there are some snacks involved.
Feedback and Procedures
Communication isn’t just about talking for practical purposes, it’s also central to the kind of relationships that you create with your team. Are you giving regular feedback, and do your team feel valued?
It’s important to communicate openly and honestly with your team for both positive and negative feedback and to do so professionally. Allow your employees to feel that they are valued members of your team, but also cultivate a culture of constructive criticism to help the personal development and efficiency of your team. Where there is cause for concern or room for improvement, let people know. At the same time, create a culture whereby your team can feel comfortable in coming to you if they have concerns and can make suggestions about alternative ways of working.
Part of establishing a productive workforce is equipping your employees with the skills they need to be the best they can be at their job, and also to help their own personal progress. Creating a culture where learning is normal and encouraged is important for the progression and growth of any business: having staff who are savvy in their field eases the workload of senior team members and increases efficiency. It’s also a great way of fostering great professional relationships, better understanding the motivations and ambitions of your team, and ensuring that your staff feel adequately supported.
James McCaffrey Writes for Sage Software
Build a positive working culture with WooBoard; an employee recognition platform that engages colleagues to work both efficiently and effectively; whether it be in teams or as individuals. WooBoard is a simple and accessible way to provide constant communication, feedback and praise throughout all levels of a company.