employees

Communications Within The Workplace

Communication is a small yet enormously important aspect of running any business. The ability to communicate and understand tasks, goals and concerns within the business environment is crucial. Failure in communication is one of the root causes behind employee anxiety, work place conflicts, leadership failure and brand damage.

Communicating expectations to staff is step one to brand success

Communicating expectations to staff is step one to brand success

Employee Expectations.

Your staff need to clearly understand what is expected of them.

Two different corporate bodies that I worked for failed to provide proper verbal or written job descriptions either upon time of hiring or upon later request. One of the responses I received to my request was that “they didn’t trust an employee to go above expectation if they needed to know what their job entailed”. Another was far more succinct: “It is whatever the F*** I tell you to do”. Keep in mind that both of these responses occurred within professional corporate office environments. One was while working with one of the largest independently owned corporations in the world.

While job descriptions can be a double-edged swords to a few employers, they can be an excellent source of communication for most others. Whether you are hiring a Barista, a Graphic designer or Vice President, thoroughly outlining your expectations is step one to success.

There will always be an existing level of expectation from new hires. Nothing about that should change. As an employer, however, you should ensure that new hires will be clear on what is required long-term, to walk the road to success with your company.

This equips them to move forward and it equips you as an employer to terminate them if they are clearly not meeting the described expectations.

But My Business Is Evolving Constantly, Job Requirements Change.

Changes to jobs occur. That is a fact of life that we over at TMS are all too familiar with. Companies grow and shrink, new needs develop and old ones disappear. Having a job description in place does not mean that it cannot change. It simply means that you as an employer need to be accountable for those changes. Many businesses find it advantageous to set up an annual review of staff positions to determine whether they still meet a necessary criteria, or if they need to evolve. This is a highly effective practice and it benefits your business as a whole. It ensures that you are annually reviewing exactly what your business does, what it used to do and what it should be doing.

If an employees job has changed in nature, or needs to adjust, then set up a meeting with the employee to discuss the changes. This won’t necessarily be easy, especially if more will be required of the employee. However it creates a transparent and accountable work place and that is the type of workplace that the best employees flock to and grow.

Employees need honesty. Creating a transparent workplace, creates healthy employees.

Employees need honesty. Creating a transparent workplace, creates healthy employees.

I May Lose Employees If I Ask Too Much.

This is true. You may lose employees, or you may have trouble finding them if the job entails too much. It is a balance and it should help you as an employer to grow. You need to realize if you are asking too much. This should be readily apparent during prolonged staffing issues and should prompt change on your part. However do not be too hasty to reduce your expectations.

Several years ago I worked with one corporation that had massive staffing issues. However in this case it wasn’t that the job positions required too much, it was because of an ongoing building boom that had drained the available workforce. This particular business wound up having to temporarily add perks and reduce some of their requirements just to get the bodies to get them through the season. Just one year later, when the boom bubble burst, we had a flood of resumes and were considered one of the top job options in the area.

It is give and take depending on your business, your social and economic climate, and your desperation. At times you may find yourself forced to lower expectations temporarily due to situations beyond your control. However learn to recognize temporary hiring shortages and long-term ones. Staffing can be a tumultuous thing – as an employer you need to be fair to your employees, but also to yourself.

Outlining clear job expectations acts as an immediate sieve for potential employees. Some will decide of their own accord that what you need is not what they want to give. Gauge their response and make the educated decision. Having expectations is necessary to ensuring you hire the right candidate for the job.

Specifics About Tasks & Goals.

Healthy expectations are required and even desired by employees

Healthy expectations are required and even desired by employees

Specifics are imperative. How many employers expect their staff to stay busy during slow periods throughout the day? All of them. But what does “staying busy” entail? Sweeping the floor? Organizing the shelves? Cold calling?

Ensure that staff have a clear understanding of their job goals, what they are meant to achieve daily, weekly, monthly etc – and how best to do so.

When I worked as a free-lance Graphic Designer, I often worked with clients who didn’t know what they wanted, but were VERY CLEAR on what they didn’t want. It was in this business that I quickly learned the importance of “specifics”.

Early into my career I worked with one client who ran an organic pet food business. They wanted something that conveyed their love of nature, purity and pets. I designed what I thought was a lovely mock-up with a minimalist styled Beagle embedded into a single leaf. I ran it past a few friends and they immediately connected it to organic and animals. It was classy, in trend and frankly just awesome.

The client hated it. They wanted a specific type of dog (but not a Beagle) something larger like a Doberman, or maybe a cat. They didn’t like the green colour but thought that maybe an orange or a terracotta red would be nice. Also they wanted the font to look more “fun”. The mock-up was too cold and professional.

The point here is not whether they were wrong in hating it, after all they were the client. The point is that they had no specifics, no details, nothing to start off with. I spent hours working on something that they immediately dismissed. The time spent on the mock-up was wasted. This waste could have been avoided had they provided specifics at the outset (or had I known the need to ask for them). There was resulting frustration, more work and they wound up with a higher bill than they anticipated.

The same goes for any employee and any job. Ensure they have specifics so that they can do their jobs well. Communicate with them. As an employer you are the leader and this is your job.

  • Explain WHO needs to do what. Make it clear whose job it is and use specifics. Passive aggressive behavior and work place conflicts often arise as a result of employees thinking that a specific job or responsibility should belong to someone else.
  • Explain WHAT they need to do to accomplish the task. Don’t assume they know what the task entails.  Explain exactly what is required for this task to be completed. If you come in tomorrow what do you as the employer expect to see?
  • Explain HOW to do what they need to do. A common mistake is leaving employees to fend for themselves. Not every task is obvious to every worker. If you ask me to change a tire – sure I can do that! If you ask me to change the spark plugs… I may need some directions. Whatever task it may be, may seem simple to you – but don’t assume! Be redundant if you want it done right. 
  • Explain WHEN. Make it clear to them what the deadline is. Sure certain workers will have good time management skills, others however will not. Explain exactly when a project needs to be done and make it clear that there are no excuses. If you do not explain the required due date thoroughly, then you have less foundation to question their delays.
  • Explain WHY. Not enough emphasis is put on this. Good employees are invested in your business. If you take the time to explain why a task is important for the company and to them individually, you will see far greater effort on their part. It creates a sense of ownership and it brings them on as a part of a “team”. The more interest an employee shows in the “why”, the more engaged they are with the business.
Scott Adams presents a sarcastic (but frighteningly accurate) picture of many modern workplaces.

Scott Adams presents a sarcastic (but frighteningly accurate) picture of many modern workplaces.

Your Concerns.

As an employer your concerns are many. Some need to be addressed immediately, others can wait. Knowing how to designate and deal with concerns is key to successful leadership and management.

Specific concerns with staff should be prioritized properly according to severity, but all should be dealt with promptly. Delaying simply creates more difficulties down the line. If an employee is not performing properly or is doing something incorrectly, the longer you delay correcting it, the more damage is done and the harder it will be to correct later.

Communicate your concerns in a work-place proper manner. Be polite, be positive and be specific. Start off with what they are doing correct and then address the things they need to do differently. Every employee will respond differently to correction but the fundamental rules are:

  • Treat them respectfully.
  • Be clear on what is wrong.
  • Explain why.
  • Explain how to change it.

Every employee is going to react differently. Remember that, as an employer, you are entitled to have certain expectations for how a job is done, however you are also responsible for ensuring your staff understand and are equipped to do it. Take responsibility for your own short comings in equipping staff and learn how to do it better.

Don’t be a bully and do not nit-pick. Be respectful and choose your battles. But in all things COMMUNICATE. Be clear. Be thorough. Be a leader.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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Having Fun & Engaging Customers

Small-Business-Marketing

So impressive!

Incredible chalk art that plays off of the well-known Legend of Zelda games.

“Content is King” and that is exactly what this chalk sign exemplifies.

Such care and thought was put into this board that it will certainly grab attention.

What is more, they have used a hip, pop culture reference that their target consumer base can easily relate to.

The most interesting part about this, however, is that an outside talent was NOT sought to do it. This was the pure artistic talent of one of the regular employees.

Businesses must learn to embrace and nurture the talents of their employees. Find out where their passions are, where their hidden skills are and then permit them to use those to bolster your efforts.

It will build loyalty with your employees and your business will profit from it.

Attitude: The Unseen Key To Success & Business

That Aspect Of Success That Cannot Be Bought…

In previous posts we have discussed the many different tools and resources available for success in small business: Targetted marketing, branding, SEO, social media, customer service, communications and so forth. Yet one key factor in the success of any business effort is attitude.

Your attitude.

Yes knowledge, skill, effort, talent, connections and background all play a big part, yet the one thing that you have, that your competition does not, is your attitude. If you want to stand out, to set yourself apart and to lead the pack, then you need to have a grasp on how this crucial aspect plays into your business.

Success in business, as with art, athletics, politics and relationships is determined by attitude. Your mentality, your attitude and your passion are of absolute importance. This concept is demonstrated every time the underdog overcomes the favored opposition. It is what drives success despite the odds.

Attitude – Your Attitude.

Maintaining a good, positive, driven attitude, however, can be difficult. Here we will outline 13 key attributes that you can use to straighten out your mindset for success.

13 Attributes Of A Successful Attitude:

1. Passion – Possess It!

Why did you go into business for yourself to begin with? Work does not need to always be a drag and nor should it. Work should be fun and your passion is the key to this. Obstacles, doubts, moments of difficulty, can all be overcome with a passionate attitude.

Passion is infectious. It will persuade and win people to your side. It will draw people to you and therefore to your business.

This is an attribute that cannot be taught. If you are not passionate about what you do, ask yourself why? Keep in mind that difficult times will stress your passion, it will weaken it, and you may call it into question, you may call your entire business into question. During those times – take a break! – and remember all of the reasons why you do what you do, and why you will keep doing it. This break may take an hour, it may take a week, but regaining your passion for your business is crucial.

2. Believe – Have Confidence!

Possibly the most important attribute. You must believe in yourself, in your vision and in your business. People are drawn to confidence, it is a defining characteristic of a good leader. Exude confidence

Do not let doubts in. Squash them early on. Doubts will weaken you, they will cause you to avoid decisions and to eventually make poor ones. They will also push people away.

Believe in yourself.

3. Failure – Laugh At It!

It is a cliche to be sure, but failure truly is an opportunity to learn. The first impulse is to get mad and discouraged. You may even be tempted to give up – don’t. Shrug it off, learn from it and do not let it scare you from trying again.

Learn from it and figure out what went wrong.

  1. If it was in your control, change it for next time.
  2. If it was not within your control determine whether it can be adjusted for next time.

Sometimes situations are nothing more than the result of variables beyond our control. Do not count these as failures, but rather, as the storms you must weather.

4. Moral Compass – Own One!

People can and will always sniff out trustworthiness. Being upstanding and morally respectable will not only draw people to you, it will keep them there. People want to know they can trust you whether for their products, for their services, or for their employment.

Repeat business is based on consumer trust.  People are drawn to trustworthiness, so to are consumers. Give them a reason to follow you, to stay with you and you will do well.

Set an example of trust to other merchants and businesses. Be the example people refer to when they talk about service. Create a brand recognition of trust and remember that it is the little things. Create a brand that other businesses can learn from.

5. Flexibility – Use It!

Times change, plans change, strategies change and so too will your small business. Adjusting to new ideas, new products, new services and new competition is all a part of owning a business. Luckily small business is far more flexible and adaptable then its larger colleagues.

Adjusting is all a part of the equation, and your attitude should reflect that. The key here is to be flexible, yet  no matter how easy the sale, no matter how small the adjustment – never change your morals. Be upstanding and refuse to be anything less, even if it is the easier road.

The moment you bend your morals once, it will be that much easier to do it again.

Do not hold out against new ideas or opportunities. Always be open and give everything a fair chance.

6. Decisions – Make Them!

It is alright to go with that gut feeling once in awhile, (unless you ate a bad taco the night before, then give it a pass).

Planning and forethought are good, yet delay can mean missed opportunities.

Your Attitude Needs To Mean The Ability To Make Decisions

Your attitude needs to include the ability to make decisions

7. Value – You Have It! 

Working a 70 hour work week can actually damage your efforts. You are better to be well rested and making sharp, informed decisions for 40 hours instead. Keep your health in mind, take care of yourself. You are quite literally the brains of the operation and if those brains are drowsy, it is going to affect everything.

No machine, no computer, no app, nothing is more important to your business than you yourself. It should never come down to choosing between family and business, work or play, sleep or espresso (mmm espresso….). Maintaining your health is crucial to your businesses long term success.

8. Your Ego – Shut It Up! 

By spending your profits on toys and gear to impress the world you are setting yourself up for failure. Did you make a good sale this week? Skip the Porsche and set that cash aside. A few bad weeks and you could be handing that Porsche back – along with the keys to your business.

Instead, reinvest a portion into the business and set aside another portion for the unexpected. Having a nest egg set aside for a rainy day, or a great new opportunity is invaluable to long term success.

Transition Marketing - Reinvest Your Profits Into Your Company Not Your Toys!

Don’t be tempted into wasting profits on toys when your business could profit from and investment.

9. Mistakes – Admit & Accept Them! 

Create an environment that allows for the ownership of mistakes. You will make them, your employees will make them, your suppliers will make them and your customers will make them. By acting graciously towards others, they will return the favour to you. As long as humans are involved in anything, mistakes will happen, one is better off learning to deal with it, then stressing out about it.

It is better to encourage your employees to disclose mistakes then to have them attempt to hide them. For one thing, knowing the mistake early on means addressing them quickly.

This gracious spirit needs to be reinforced regularly. Stating it once and putting it in a generic company policy will not make a difference. People need to see it, and experience it.

10. Criticism – Take It! 

One of the most difficult attributes you need is the ability to accept criticism. Anyone with a fragile ego is tempted to get angry or even to lash out. This is the opposite of confidence and will quickly undermine your leadership. It will alienate employees and customers alike.

Learning to take criticism is all a part of growing up. It will reinforce relationships, build trust and heck, you may even learn a thing or two!

11. Strong Work Ethic – Exemplify It!

Show a strong work ethic and others will follow suit. As the head of the business, your example means the world to your employees. If you work hard, they will as well.

If the head creates an example, the body will follow and soon you will be outworking your competition. On the flip side, if you do not put your back into it, do not expect your employees to either.

12. Don’t Look Back – Bounce Back!

You will meet obstacles along the way. Building a business is not an easy task. Push forward, learn from mistakes and do not dwell on them. Until we have reinvented the DeLorian we will remain unable to change the past, so move on.

13. Your Comfort Zone – Get Out!

There will be opportunities that require you to step out of your comfort zone. It is the nature of business to have to change, adjust and evolve and this will require making difficult or uncomfortable decisions.

The key is to do it. Do not let your comfort zone prevent you from implementing necessary or high potential changes to your business. In order to grow, your business will need you to step up.

Take some time out of your day each day to remember what it is you are doing and why

Every business will have a certain level of skill, smarts, talent and background but none will have your attitude. Use this to your advantage! Become the boss you always wanted to have and drive the business you always wanted to be a part of!

Attitude – it’s what will lead you to success.

Transition Marketing Services - Okanagan Small Business Marketing Solutions

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.