Article by Zac, from NZ Apparel Magazine, June 2011. Enjoy. Applicable to all businesses!
One of a manager or owners responsibilities is to inspire staff and encourage them to strive for excellence and remain productive even during difficult times at your business. While this can be challenging, there are steps you can take to generate enthusiasm in any business environment.
It is proven via many studies from across the world that when you have a great workplace, the profit of your business or team, should increase by up to 2.5 times. Literally… Sales are up to 20% higher for an engaged team member, customer service given is “up the scale” and shareholders are well, very happy!
Here are a few suggestions to motivate your team and to help you grow your profitability :
* Reward achievements. Your employees will be more motivated to work hard if they know you recognize and appreciate their contributions. Awards don’t have to be costly to have an impact. A few inexpensive ideas include providing an employee-of-the-month parking spot, naming products after your star performers or offering an occasional long lunch, short workday, a free coffee or movie tickets.
* Address stress and burnout. Encourage your staff to speak up when they’re overwhelmed. If people know that they can be honest when they have too much work on their plates, you’ll be able to offer them help or suggest time-management tips.
Emphasize the importance of taking breaks. Staff may be tempted to skip lunch hours when they are busy, which can contribute to burnout. Show employees that it’s okay to take breaks periodically during the workday by doing so yourself.
* Bring in temporary help. Extended periods of overtime with no relief in sight can quickly erode motivation and morale. Support your team during peak workloads by bringing in temporary staff. These temps can manage daily demands while your employees focus on priority initiatives. There is nothing worse for your staff to be doing something that someone else could easily do that stops them hitting those jobs and projects that could really make a difference in your business! You might think “how can I afford that” and yes it might have its short term challenges but if your productive team can work on more important “stuff”, the rewards will come, quicker than you might have thought.
* Provide competitive salaries. Underpaying staff sends the message that your business doesn’t value their work. Be sure that what you are paying is in line with current industry standards and preferably at the upper end. Government reports, trade publications and job websites are just a few resources that can help. One of the best pieces of brilliance I saw in a client around salaries was this : The owner asked all new staff what they expected to earn. He then always paid them $1,000 more than they wanted. Obviously new team members were taken back by this gesture given you usually do not earn what you think you are worth. This business has a lot of long term staff who are motivated and are performing at a high level consistently and the business has bucked the recession and has maintained profit growth in excess of 10% pa for the past 5 years (ie. even during these last few harder years).
Here are some long-term practices to create a culture conducive to motivation.
* Explain the “big picture.” Let people know how their jobs and outputs tie into the businesses goals and priorities. A lot of your team may not understand the significance of their work until it’s explained to them. They may be surprised to learn their efforts could help generate additional business and knowing this may prompt her to devote extra time to the project. Most of your team especially below middle management will operate day to day in a silo, where they just do their job. By letting them know the impact they have if they do their job well (or not so well), your people will get the big picture and how what they do really will impact on the overall results of the business.
* Promote two-way feedback. Supplement annual performance appraisals with periodic conversations about how the employees are doing. Let team members know right away when they’ve exceeded or failed to meet expectations. They can then take the necessary steps to perform their best work. It is “scientifically” proven that the most effective form of feedback is a 10 minute catch up once a month with your team leader. Is your culture conducive to two way feedback so that is not just boss to worker but worker to boss? The most effective businesses really focus on ensuring there is an open culture where anybody can have an idea or give constructive feedback, the power of the team is immense compared to a few managers running the business. Managers are you truly open to receiving feedback on how you can improve your own performance? Where you are holding your team back from reaching the ultimate performance level? Bottom line is listen objectively to all ideas, proactive solicit them and take appropriate action.
* Create a safe-to-risk environment. Allow employees to take prudent risks in their work. By demonstrating trust in your staff, you’ll inspire them to develop creative solutions to problems. Make sure they keep you informed, but don’t micromanage their efforts. When mistakes are made, focus on what can be learned from the process instead of placing blame. So do not rule your business with your thumb. Your team 98% of the time will be the right people, so let them do their job, all you need to do is have set properly their accountabilities and timeframes. You just want to know about exceptions, so make sure you know them, otherwise it is status quo, so don’t worry, focus on what you can do to really impact your business!
* Lead by example. You can’t expect your team to be motivated if you aren’t yourself. Demonstrate the attitude you want others to emulate. Arrive at work with a positive mindset. Avoid complaining about other managers or business policies in front of employees. Simple actions can have a major influence on employee attitudes. Nobody wants a hypocrite as their leader.
The great thing with these ideas is that they all contribute to better customer service… Which means your customers will buy more… Yes, so you will have more cash-flow and profit! One service I offer is to come into a business and add lots of ideas on how the team can perform better (there are so many ways!) and this flows on to help ensure ever increasing levels of customer service and gives you every chance of potentially increasing your profits lots! Sing out if you would like a hand… Contact Zac de Silva, of Business Changing on 021 775 660 or email@example.com
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