When starting a business, one can easily get carried away with all the preparations, financing, interior, marketing…etc. Staffing is often limited to rapid hunts and swift hires, and then the entrepreneur hits the ground running.
Just as fast as the employee was hired, a problem may arise and the employee is either fired, or worse resigns.
In large companies, processes must be set, expectations communicated, and performances appraised and rewarded. No exceptions should be made as this could risk the survival of your business. It does take time and effort at the beginning and even resistance, but the benefits reaped from starting right cannot be expressed enough in words. Getting this right is even more challenging for startups and small businesses due to the lack of time drive, money, experience, or all the aforementioned.
So where does one start?
Easy! The wonderful worldwide web. There is no need to invest in expensive templates or HRM systems. There is a great amount of material available online. It may sound overwhelming, but it puts the business on the right track and frees the entrepreneur from minding tedious and short-term operations.
First Things First: Hiring!
Irrespective of where the employee is hired from, a well-written job description is key to attracting the right candidate and also communicates the right expectations. You might find that some will pursue the job and some will realize it isn’t for them. This saves you unnecessary time wastage. Focus on the job and be clear as to what the key tasks are, responsibilities, duties, educational requirements and minimum experience. Interviews are critical and conducting the right interview will separate the good from the bad.
Communicate Your Expectations!
Once hired, this job description can actually become part of the employment contract along with additional information such as working conditions (hours, breaks, holidays…etc), benefits, perks, reward scheme, deliverables and training. Note that a frugal approach to reimbursement may be economically sound, but it can be damaging to the wellbeing of the business. Low pay, especially when employees can easily benchmark their pay against others, can be demoralizing and impact the performance of the business, thus eventually leading to changes in staff.
Once the business is operational, manuals need to be created. Manuals should encompass all operations – from shop opening to shop closing procedures, stock-taking, how to setup customers, how to conduct services….etc. Any process that affects customers and can backfire needs to be properly documented. Manuals must be communicated to staff and memorized by all. They minimize confusion and facilitate quick learning and adaption of the standards set by the business owner. Quiz them on their knowledge if need be. Manuals ensure consistency and consistency is the supreme indicator of quality. It will keep people coming.
Determine Your Targets!
Another essential step that needs to be set up once the business is operational is target-setting. Targets need to be set up for each employee and this doesn’t necessarily mean revenue or number of services conducted, but could also be based on positive feedback, key competencies displayed by the employee such as physical appearances, respect for time, attitude…etc.
Targets differ for the various types of jobs but all jobs have targets – so identifying them should not be very difficult. Targets should be communicated regularly and be visible throughout the business – preferably not to customers though. So in the employee rest area, or storage, or even at the cash register, placing targets can act as motivators for staff. However, keep an eye out for unwarranted competitiveness amongst staff as it could cause tension.
Rewards Go A Long Way!
Targets lead to rewards. Although some may cringe at the sound of rewards and the financial impact they may carry, rewards may not be monetary. A day off, a dinner voucher or even a ten dinar gift card from a mall can go a long way! Employees value any sort of appreciation – monetary or not and the saying “it’s the thought that counts” really does apply here. Measure targets and performance regularly and reward consistently. Quarterly rewards or annual rewards are sufficient, but if you find your business environment calls for monthly then succumb to monthly perks but make sure your budget is ready for them.
Regularity Is Key!
Regular staff meetings are also key. Regularity is a clear indicator that management cares about staff and dedicates time to discuss day-to-day issues and plans. It is also a sign of professionalism. Monthly plans are a minimum although again, depending on the business, it may call for weekly or bi-weekly. Staff meetings should be communicated in advance and conducted either before opening or after closing, or when customers are not around. Ideally, the meeting agenda should include (but not limited to): positive feedback, constructive criticism, issues to resolve, issues to focus on, marketing activities for the month, and any other business functions. One-on-one criticism should be done on a personal level and never in the presence of the team.
Assess Your Success!
And last but not least – performance reviews. These should be done on an annual basis and realistically at the end of each year. Performance reviews give the business owner the chance to critique each employee in an open platform. It also highlights to the employee the areas they need to concentrate on and improve upon. Performance reviews can also lead to raises – depending on the outcome. Again, some may gasp at the thought of giving raises, but nothing encourages staff to outdo themselves like a monetary improvement. Even an increase of as little as 3% can have positive outcomes.
Happy Management Yields Happy staff!
Templates are in abundance online and the more you document, the clearer your expectations are of your staff. This leads to happier management that yields happier staff; A simple and achievable equation.
Whether you are a 4-staff operation or a business with a team of 20 – setting up the right framework from the beginning is a sure way to retain staff and subsequently smooth sailing.