Dear Style & Substance:
I am a small business owner and I’ve noticed that some of my staff, after they have been here a while, slack off and have bad work habits. I am really not sure about how to get everyone back on track. Any advice?
This seems to be a typical problem with so many small businesses. Many times, small businesses are run more like a family than a business. Owners and employees often become friends and the lines between personal and professional become blurred beyond recognition. At the end of the day however, a business is a business, and just like a functional and happy family, boundaries and guidelines give structure and support to accomplish goals.
One way to set the stage for success is in the hiring and orientation process. This is a time when clear expectations, routines, and policies are set by the employer and expected by new employees. Processes should be very detailed and be written in an employee handbook, no matter the size of the organization. This should also include warnings and disciplinary procedures. You, the business owner, should at all times reflect the consistency expected. Should a new employee show disinterest or dislike early on, that is not likely to change unless you initiate the discussion and the expected changes. Should this be something that you have not implemented, begin the process now and review it with each staff member.
We think that two “automatics” should be in place; which would be NO use of technology that is not work-related and being on time and ready to work each day at the designated time. Harsh, but true. Cell phones, Facebook, web browsing, and work phones for personal planning and family calls, should be forbidden. We do understand that emergencies happen; however, set everyone straight from the start with clear expectations for professional use of technology. Put a computer history check system in place, so the rules are respected. If the work times are not clearly enforced, then employees can easily make excuses.
Hold regular meetings, with both the entire staff and individually, to build understanding, camaraderie and to set goals to help keep the staff on track with workloads and reporting to supervisors. Reward systems are a great way to regularly give out appreciation and compliments. Everyone responds to something different; design the rewards around your staff’s interests and motivations. We think that $$$ are a great motivator!
Address situations immediately. This reminds employees that you are aware and have the workplace environment under control. Immediate action reduces chaos, gossip and drama. Employees are seeking a sense of fairness, and if a double standard exists, or they regularly hear someone using excuses to keep out of trouble, they will begin to disrespect your authority. A poor supervisory style that was recently brought to our attention is when the boss is so intimidated by particular employees, that they make an overall demand instead of a direct demand to the specific offender. This leads to a lack of confidence in your leadership from the other employees.
Remember that THIS IS A BUSINESS!! Without making your issues their issues it is a delicate balance to undertake. Many times employees have no idea of all the time, costs, worries and juggling that you are actually doing to make a living. Deciding what may help them understand is a tricky, yet necessary piece to good leadership.
A S K
Style & Substance:
Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer, creative life coaching solutions
Email your questions or request a life coaching appointment to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information: visit our website at yourstyleandsubstance.com