Carl Reader, author of The Start Up Coach, co-owner of dennisandturnbull.com
Google “how to get rich” or “how to build a successful business”, and you’ll see a wealth of thoughts and opinions of all shapes, sizes and styles. There is no one secret key, but it’s my belief that a large factor in the success of a business is that – first things first – it’s all about the people.Every business relies on its people, and in all likelihood your business is no different, regardless of its size. As you grow, your employees are the ones who maintain your brand’s quality, integrity and ethos on your behalf. And that, in many ways, is key to your business’s success.
Most employers face a tricky situation, especially as a company grows, in that there is always going to be a level of dilution between them and the troops on the ground. You are directly responsible for the recruitment, training and retention of staff. Make sure time and care is taken throughout this process, to find an employee who will not only fit in to the company but add to it. As the business grows further, ensure recommended processes and procedures are in place to make sure that the people coming on board are people who will add to the business.
Prioritise making sure that your workforce is trained, motivated and managed. Your employees should be both brand and system ambassadors. It might seem obvious, but if you allow your employees to do their own thing too much, you’d be very lucky to have a network of staff that are pulling in the same direction. It’s vital to include staff recruitment and retention as part of your initial and ongoing training, and to look at how you can manage and support managers in this area, to make sure the right people are being hired. One way that many leaders keep an eye on staff morale and motivation is to communicate carefully, and even implement staff engagement surveys. These will highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly features in your workforce morale, and will also allow you to identify any worrying trends before they jeopardise your brand.
Most importantly, ensure there is a firm, positive culture across the organisation. You can have the very best training and systems but it’s unlikely to actually be implemented unless you have a strong culture amongst your head office team. You need to work on thoroughly understanding your core vision and values, and then find a way to get your senior team to fully buy into them and get them truly established in the business. Once your leadership is aligned with these, you are in a good position to set the culture across the business. Be aware that there is no right culture for every organisation, and the tone will always be set from the very top – so make sure you’re fully on board with it.
Next, make sure you spread the love across the business. It’s all well and good having a great culture at HQ, but you need to make sure that the culture is shared across the business and all team members. Focus on increasing touch points with your staff, and think about how your managers can move from checklist tickers to a true support for your staff. Involving your staff with the strategy, governance and direction of your company is a great initiative too –not only can they contribute great ideas but they also help staff feel a sense of inclusion too.
Be aware of change, but make sure you’re still true to your values. Every business must reflect, change and develop, and yours is no exception. With this in mind, make sure staff training is a priority. Effective, consistent training that is in line with core company values, even through changes, is vital to a successful business.
Finally, just a word of warning! Don’t be the “Undercover Boss”. Some of you might have seen the Undercover Boss TV show. Usually, it shows a CEO of an organisation pretending to be a new worker – and more often than not they find things that they would have never have expected to see. If you are in a position where you could go into your business unannounced and not be noticed, there is a real problem with the connection between leadership and staff, which can only lead to dilution of culture and standards. Don’t be the unintentional undercover boss!
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