In my last two blog posts, I talked about how to find and then retain staff in the critical first few months. In this post I want to explore the ways in which to manage staff on an ongoing day to day basis. While some of this should really happen as part of the induction process, it’s worth a review at any point of time.
In an effort to make a great impression we can sometimes forget to put expectations in place. Sometime we are so busy ensuring we are a great place to work, that we overlook a few niggling things. Those niggling things can become serious irritations later down the line. The habit is set and it can be hard to suddenly try to break it. So how do we set expectations?
First up, sweat the small stuff. Here at Generate, we have a comprehensive library of procedures but there’s one that I think all companies should have: Performance of duties and general obligations. From setting out guidelines for suitable work attire (muscle tops are not acceptable work wear) to when it’s ok to browse facebook (all day is not ok) can really set the boundaries. Include topics about working from home (what’s expected, what’s paid for or not and who can and can’t), use of equipment and software, medical appointments, what to do if you’re running late. Cover what how you expect staff to interact and behave with each other, with clients; resolve issues both internally and externally. What is appropriate behavior at the xmas party…
Communicate clearly and honestly
So you’ve laid out the groundwork and now it’s time to focus on the big stuff. I think it’s important that staff have a good understanding of their contribution to the greater effort whether they are part of a team or working as an individual. Setting out how you all work together is important to a greater understanding of just what is expected of a staff member to ensure everything stays on track.
I think a good level of transparency about how the business operates is invaluable here. Not all staff know or even understand how a business runs. So many times I see people working really hard but the business is barely making a profit. As business owners we know there’s a big difference between turnover and profit. I believe it’s critical for employees to understand just how this works. Quite simply because without this understanding they aren’t going to help you drive a profitable business. This rings especially true for creative enterprises.
When you hired you likely set out broad goals and KPI’s as part of the job description. Ongoing you should be monitoring and updating goals and KPI’s on a frequent basis. Measurements such as timesheets, billings etc are standard, but it’s just as important to talk about what’s happening at any given time. Good communication is critical here. As a leader you really need an open door and an open ear policy. You don’t want to create a culture of fear of failure which in turn creates a keep quiet and fudge the timesheets reporting. When failure does inevitably come calling, stay calm and look to learn and problem solve. Give clear feedback and help to guide everything gently back on track.
Your "when the $hit hits the fan" plan
Staff have a personal life that includes illness, deaths and kids. At some point they will be required to disappear on the spot and you can almost guarantee it’s the worse possible timing. So what’s the plan? Make sure you have a good roster of trusted freelancers and suppliers to call on when it does. Keep it up to date and stay in touch. You never know when you need to call them in.
Back to the good communication again. Explain to the team what’s happening and ask for their support. You may need them to work later in order to meet a deadline and it’s best you pre prepare them for the possibility rather than spring (or worse demand) that they stay behind to help. Make sure you acknowledge the support and say thanks.
While we’re on the topic of giving thanks, why not try the surprise acknowledgement gift. Once a month, decide who has gone the extra mile for a client, the team as a whole or just pushed themselves out of their comfort zone. A simple gift like a bottle of wine, gift card or a cinema ticket left on their desk with a card goes a long way to making sure they keep up the awesome work, and sends a positive message to the rest of the team.
In my next post, I’ll explore the not so fun side of managing staff. You’ll find some helpful tips for when things don’t go to plan.
Want a no risk opportunity to talk about the HR issues in your business? We’re happy to give you a taster session. If you’re feeling besieged by staff related issues, why not call us and see if we can relieve the pressure? Alternatively, drop us a line. We'd love to help.