Staff are people too

We have some advice for business owners who have become employers of large staff complements.

As your business grows, you will begin hiring staff. One or two staff members can turn into an entire team and suddenly, you look up and realise that you have an actual business with a substantial number of employees.

It’s easy to keep a good company culture in the beginning when the business is small, but as it gets bigger and bigger you will need to put all sorts of policies and procedures in place to look after your culture and to ensure that things are done properly.

After running a while with good policies and procedures in place, you can end up being fairly disconnected from the majority of your employees. This isn’t a problem if you have a great firm culture and if you are confident that the management you ARE in contact with are doing a good job, but sometimes the disconnect between upper management and employees can become so big that some big problems creep in without you realising it.

We have some advice for business owners who have become employers of large staff complements:

Don’t manage by numbers.

Crazy advice from people who are mad about numbers, right? But it’s important advice. There are a couple of things to bear in mind as an employer:

  1. The people who work for you are people, not “human resources”. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend – in fact, as a boss, you should definitely not enter the friend zone. But you can remember that you are dealing with human beings. They have dreams and fears and insecurities. They have families and a life outside of the office. They get tired and hungry and stressed. You are a person too, act like one. This is not just a matter of basic humanity (although it should be), it’s good business sense to treat your employees with kindness. Happy employees are more productive, more positive and far more likely to take good care of their work and your company’s clients.
  2. Be careful of your metrics. You really should not be measuring productivity in hours any more. You don’t want an employee who works their full 9 hours a day but produces bad work – or never finishes a project. Productivity and employee value should be measured in outcomes. You pay them to do a specific job, not to warm a seat for 9 hours. If they are meeting their deadlines, completing their objectives and providing quality work then they’re a great employee. Do you really care if it took 4 hours and they spent the other 5 relaxing?
  3. Embrace technology. Firstly, online and cloud systems make work more efficient and more fun. But more importantly, online and cloud systems enable remote-working and flexi-time for your employees. Switching your team to a technology that allows for remote working bolsters your business continuity plan – if the work can continue as normal from anywhere, then it can do so under any circumstances. Head office burned down? No problem, we all know how to carry on with our duties at a coffee shop… Additionally, its great for morale and general happiness. How amazing for them that they can work from home if a child is sick? Or that they can come in three hours “late” in the morning after running a personal errand? You will have happy, balanced and LOYAL employees.
  4. Re-think your processes. Think of the most boring, repetitive actions you (or team members of yours) have to do on a monthly basis. There is almost certainly an app for that. You can streamline your processes with technology, making you and your team more efficient and even more indispensable to head office than you were before. Your team can be more efficient in half the time, and you don’t have to fill that empty half with more work – rather spend it on innovation hubs or teambuilding.
  5. Listen. Create a company culture of innovation and creativity by actively listening to your employees ideas and encouraging your managers to do the same. You have a team of many minds, each one unique and each one with their own strengths – this can be incredibly powerful and extremely good for your business if you allow them to give their input and work together.

Do not let systems, processes and results in your successful business blind you to the incredible people who are keeping it going. You cannot run the business alone, so appreciate the people that make it possible. Its the right thing to do AND its good business.

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