As a business owner you have the difficult job of building a business, which can mean employee wellness and motivation being left ’til last. Here’s our quick list of things to do to take care of your team when you’re too small to have an HR manager.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Business owners will often know their team’s names and what their roles are, but being small often means being interested in people – it makes all the difference. The first step to getting to know your team is making sure you have robust formal structures in place to track skills, abilities and progress but also less obvious interests and talents. Effective team management is also about informal conversations to help you understand individuals as well as team dynamics. As an employer you need to be at a level with your team where you are able to pick up a dip in performance or a change in the organisational culture before they become bigger problems. This starts with something as small as taking five minutes while you are at the coffee machine to chat.
LEAD FROM THE FRONT
It is important to be part of the team. Employees like to see bosses getting their hands dirty, and leading from the trenches. This means active leadership – accountable, transparent and encouraging. This starts with self management and high performance from you – it will filter down.
SHOW SOME APPRECIATION
Many employers don’t reward good performance because they see it as their employees’ duty while other employers give praise for every little thing. Neither of these processes are effective. Employees need to fulfill their responsibilities, but also need to be rewarded for extraordinary work. For employees who have not been rewarded yet, this also serves as an incentive to apply themselves.
When deciding how to reward your employees, don’t get stuck on only financial compensation. Often it is just about highlighting triumphs in a team meeting or just giving them a pat on the back. How you reward, particularly if you have the benefit of a small team, should be based on individual values. While it may seem out of place in business, the love language test suggests that every person interprets and gives love in different ways. For some people, this is words of affirmation, or gifting or acts of service. Employee rewards are most effective when they are in line with the way the individual best accepts praise.
As the world changes, the workplace becomes increasingly diverse. The difficulty is trying to manage individual needs while maintaining a level of uniformity for the entire team. The key for businesses is to emphasise communication – avoid both positive and negative stereotypes, respond fairly to any diversity issues and encourage employees to limit criticism to the work and not personal factors. Even if you have a small business, make sure there is a formal policy in place that deals with diversity issues so that there is a clear roadmap.
Due to the sensitive nature of diversity concerns, many businesses prefer to ignore the evolved workplace. The key is to embrace diversity but make it clear that prejudice will not be tolerated.
KEEP AN OPEN DOOR POLICY
Many employees first days include the phrase “At X we have an open door policy” but in reality people do not feel comfortable raising their concerns to their boss. This is either because they do not see their employer as accessible, or they do not find the guidance they receive to be useful. An effective leader ensures that employees are able to articulate any concerns but that their guidance is also solutions orientated. This starts with a relationship with your staff and an understanding of your business. Where you do not have a solution, be upfront about it, take the time to look for a way to resolve the problem and involve the employee in finding the appropriate course of action.