In today’s working world, independent self-motivated employees want flexibility. They don’t want a drill sergeant dictating to them on the small stuff, such as time keeping, working hours and when to take their tea breaks. That cramps their style, demotivates them and drives them to look around at greener pastures. Gone are the days of employees working in their little grey cubicles from 8:30am to 5:00pm. They require freedom and flexibility in certain areas of the business and in today’s ever-changing environment it makes sense to allow for this extra flexibility.
If you’re granting people freedom though, you should also provide a safety net. The safety net is there to provide your team members with some structure and boundaries. Having this structure prevents you from having to “step in” suddenly to bail out a team member.
So how can you apply this approach? How can you give people freedom to work in the way that suits them, but be there with a safety net all ready to go.
Here are some ways you can build a strong communication platform in your business. Your “safety net” starter kit.
- Weekly team meetings – Reporting back to your team on your area of responsibilities every week is key to maintaining a focused and responsible employee. If your team members know that it is not just you their boss that requires feedback, but the team as a whole is counting on them for results it definitely shifts from a “you and I scenario” to an “us” scenario.
- Utilise an external coach or apply coaching techniques – Don’t try and solve your team members problems for them. Coach, support and guide them. Get them to come up with their own solutions. This results in them taking ownership and builds motivation. If you are unable to coach them, then engage the services of an extremal coach.
- Introduce an accountability buddy system – Pair your team members up. It may be a mentor-team member relationship or a peer-peer relationship.
- One-on-one sessions – Depending on the type of job and responsibilities there should always be a time and place to check in. One-on-one time is not a formal event, but a chat over a coffee and a place to discuss the current status (professionally or personally) of your team member. Once a month, once a quarter it’s your decision.
- Answer their emails and queries in good time – In most organisations the turnaround time for external customer feedback is immediate. This is good customer service isn’t it? Your team members are your internal customers and they should be presented with the same courteous treatment. By responding in good time shows you care and that they are important to the business.
- Business culture – Build a culture were your team feels safe to talk, discuss, debate, challenge and provide feedback about the business goals. Where they feel accountable for their actions.
To build a flexible working culture there is definitely work to be done. Establishing the correct systems and processes in your business allows you to develop self-motivated, focused and responsible team members.
The other day I was sitting in a cafe, enjoying a cup of tea and finishing off some work. And watching the staff at work. Well, not quite.
The female server had decided it would be a good idea to fix up her appearance. So she had laid out her make up and hair equipment on the serving counter and proceeded to, with the assistance of the stainless steel coffee machine as her make-shift mirror, apply eyeliner, blush and a few other bits and pieces. Once all the brushes and paraphernalia were packed away she then started on her hair. While she was doing this she was chatting rather loudly to a fellow server behind the counter, oblivious to the world.
As I watched this play out in front of me, I looked around the cafe. Some of the tables were dirty. The chairs were not placed neatly and there was rubbish lying on the floors.
What’s wrong with this picture?
As I sat there wondering if there were any makeup products in my tea, I wondered how many other businesses are run like this? The obvious lack of self-awareness and self-management on behalf of the employees, and a lack of management, controls, procedures and systems. I wondered if this cafe would ever be as successful as it could be.
If you have your own business then don’t ever believe it can run successfully on auto-pilot. Why would you invest in a business and then not be involved?
Most people are in business to make money, and the customer/client is an important part of this financial success. Here are a few things to think about:
- If you are not able to be in the business everyday, then who is taking care of it? Who is looking after the customers/clients? Do you have a responsible manager in charge?
- Is this manager aware of the business standards and their position’s roles and responsibilities?
- How will you measure their performance?
- Are your team members aware of their roles, responsibilities and the business goals?
- Do you have a disciplinary code of conduct? What you can and cannot do in the business?
- When will you be checking in on the business? How would this be carried out?
- What external resources can you use to measure the businesse’s performance?
- Do you have an employee induction programme and training programme?
- Do you interview and hire your employees to fit your business culture?
To stay on track, meet and exceed your customers expectations and to be successful you need to include the correct oversight in your business.