Keep Your Staff Happy to Grow Your Business

When your employees are engaged with your business, you have a much greater chance to grow a profitable business and keep your customers satisfied.

So what makes an engaged employee? How does their engagement affect your business? How can you achieve engagement with your staff?

As an employer you need to create the right environment to allow engagement to flourish in your workforce. To help you get the basics in place, here are four steps to follow:

1. Create a strategic story – Where are you? Where have you been? Where are you going? As a business owner you probably know this, but do your employees feel part of that story? If they know the story, it lets them see how the work they do fits in with the business’s goals. This isn’t something you can simply put on a poster on the wall to get buy in. You need to repeat the story over and over again to employees and give them a sense of ownership in it. If your story is on the wall, ask your staff to add to it; create a timeline of diagrams, new solutions and innovations leading to your company’s goals. Create a buzz and encourage people to share their ideas, so they can see how their achievements fit into your company’s ‘big picture’.

2. Engage managers – If you try to engage your staff without first engaging your managers you may get limited results. Many employees’ motivation and engagement will depend on how they feel towards their bosses. If those managers are not engaged themselves, where’s the motivation to engage their people? Engaged managers focus their people and enable them to get the job done, treat their team members as individuals and coach and stretch them. When your managers build bigger relationships with people as individuals, those workers will make bigger contributions.

3. Give employees a voice – Listening is a key part in giving employees a voice but it doesn’t stop at the 360-degree survey. A survey might tell you how people are feeling at a certain point in time but it doesn’t tell you why they are feeling like that. Members of staff have insights into why and where things are going wrong. Somebody knows before the event that something is going to go wrong. If they know that they can speak up and be listened to, the problem can be pointed out before it becomes a disaster.

Employees who are able to speak up will share the good as well as the bad. If they feel that their ideas are listened to, they’ll share them, which will increase their engagement in their work.

4. Make sure there is organisational integrity – This means avoiding the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. If your company’s values are not reflected in the day-to-day behaviours of managers or colleagues, then it will be seen as a corporate spin exercise and will not be trusted by employees. When your values are aligned between staff and managers, then trust is created and so is engagement.

Different companies will need to create different engagement programmes, but if you follow these four steps, you’ll be able to create a strong foundation for any efforts you make to increase employee engagement and develop your business.

Are your employees engaged? Are they giving their all to your business? If they’re not, then come to our workshop on 17 April 2013 in Reading. During the workshop, from 9.30am – 12.30pm, we will look at key ways to improve engagement of your employee, in order toincrease profitability, efficiency and achieve faster growth, and improve attendance, retention and job satisfaction

It is being held at Symantec, Green Park, Reading and costs just £20 +VAT to attend. To book your place online, click here and scroll through the list of events to 17 April 2013.

Poor Performance – Can You Prove It?

Sometimes as a manager you need to deliver bad news or negative feedback to a member of your staff. You might need to pick them up on an issue of performance that you’re not happy with, or where they are not meeting your standards.

This is not a comfortable thing to do. You need to be quite assertive about it, to be taken seriously – and so that your member of staff doesn’t just argue with you! To help you discuss the issue in the right way, you need evidence of the poor performance. You have to be able to show your team member what they’ve been doing wrong or below standard. Just telling them that they’re not doing what you want them to do, won’t have any impact, if you can’t prove it.

So you need to collect the evidence, so your team member can really understand what they’ve done wrong and how you want them to change. It’s not about collecting evidence just to use against someone – you really need it in order to get the message across and to make a difference.

Is one of your team repeatedly late coming into work? If so, you need a recording system that shows them when they came it late and how often it happens. If your staff clock in and out every day, you have your system. If not, you need to look for another way of recording the time.

Does a member of your staff keep making errors in their work? How many times have they made a mistake and what was the result of it? Again, you need to create a way of recording the error rate and the consequences.

When you can show the proof of poor performance, it is much easier to discuss the issue with the particular member of staff and, between you, work out what needs to be done in order to improve their performance.

We discussed the importance of collecting evidence at one of my interactive workshops. Click here to watch the short video and find out more.

How do you collect evidence of performance issues in your business?

Are You Up To Date with Recent Legal Changes in HR?

The law is always changing around people issues. To help you keep up to date, here are a few of the recent and forthcoming changes that you need to be aware of.

1. Statutory benefit increases – standard rates for statutory maternity pay, paternity pay and adoption pay will increase with effect from 7 April 2013 to £136.78. Statutory sick pay will increase with effect from 6 April 2013 to £86.70.

2. Compensation limits – annual rises for compensation limits have been announced for all dismissals which take effect from 1 February 2013. The cap on a week’s pay rises to £450 and the maximum unfair dismissal basic award rises to £13,500. The maximum compensatory award rises to £74,200.

3. Sickness benefits – from December 2012, people on sickness benefits are being offered work experience to help them back into a job. Short periods of work experience at an appropriate employer will help people with limited employment history get a flavour of the workplace environment, gain new skills and boost their confidence. People who fail to carry out any agreed work related activity without good reason may face sanctions.

4. Fuel rates and car allowances – HMRC has published new advisory fuel rates for company cars with effect from 1 December 2012. The rates are to be used only where employers either reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars, or require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel. The next review will be 1 March 2013.

5. Criminal record checks – the Home Office has announced a new service whereby employees and volunteers requiring criminal records checks will be able to make one application and have access to an online certificate check rather than have to make new applications for each job they apply for.  The service will be free for volunteers.  The new system will be launched by the disclosure and barring services on 1 March 2013.

If you need to know more about any of these changes and how they affect your particular business, leave a comment here, email me your question or pick up the phone and we can talk about it.

Formal versus Informal Performance Management

There are two sides to performance management that you need to consider with your staff. There is day to day management and there are the more formal processes, which include issues such as appraisals, setting objectives and setting standards.

Formal management

Many managers don’t like carrying out appraisals and they do have a reputation for being difficult to do and timing consuming. Done without any planning they can actually be a waste of time! However, formal, planned appraisals can be of huge benefit to your business and your staff. It gives you the chance to sit down every year with each member of your team and discuss the important issues with them.

Informal management

Don’t neglect your daily and weekly contact with your staff, thinking that you can leave everything to the annual appraisal. Make sure you keep in communication on a regular basis to iron out any issues that might arise. Don’t let minor issues develop into huge problems by ignoring them! Monitor individual and team performance so that you can give feedback at the appropriate time. Keep giving your staff regular praise and recognition for a job well done.

When you can achieve a balance of formal and informal performance management, that best suits you, your team and your business, you’ll be in the best position to create the best performance.

To find out more about formal versus informal performance management and hear me speaking at one of my interactive workshops, click here.

Do you use annual appraisals to improve the performance of your team?