As if marketing, accounting, strategizing and all your other responsibilities don’t bring enough challenges to the table. You might think that employees are going to simply help you cope with the extensive workload of the business, but the truth is that they can be as much of a hindrance as they are a help. But that might be more down to you and the business than them. If you want the kind of team you can proudly boast of, you’re going to need to make sure you’re working to get them there.
Take your responsibilities seriously
Before you take on any additional staff, you have to ensure that you are taking your responsibilities as a boss as serious as possible. For instance, your responsibility to be able to pay them in a timely manner, consistently, on the agreed dates. Far too many employers let payroll go too long without getting done for the month and, while it seems like a minor fix to correct, it can lead you in legal hot water. The same goes for not paying enough attention to your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working place. Make sure your business is fully compliant before anything else.
Give them better tools to work with
So, you have the people on your team and you’ve ensured you’re fulfilling all your responsibilities. But sometimes it can feel like you’re not getting enough on your side of the deal. Productivity problems are very common in business, but without being addressed, they can cost you more than they make you. They’re one of the most common reasons you might find your business struggling, in fact. The right steps should be taken to approach what’s causing those productivity issues and you might be surprised to find it’s not always your staff’s fault. Sometimes, it might be the tools they’re using and the environment they’re working in. A simple change in software or a little extra training on time management might be all they need.
Cope with their busywork
While you might hire people to deal with some your workload and delegate some responsibilities that were once yours, you will find that they also come with more work to be done. In particular, you’re going to find yourself with a lot more human resources to handle. Not only when it comes to problem addressing and solving. HR consultants can help you deal with the trickier side of navigating employment law, but they can also help you deal with the sheer amount of busywork that your staff comes with. From tracking details about past problems to managing how many sick and holiday days are on record, there’s plenty of admin that needs to be done. Make sure you have the tools or the help you need to make it manageable.
When productivity isn’t down to laziness or ineffective work processes, it’s more likely than not to be a result of the employee’s mindset. Call it motivation, call it engagement, call it whatever you like. It’s all about how they connect to their work and why exactly they want to get it done. Maintaining motivation means getting as invested in your team as you would like them to be in you. This might mean giving them the opportunity to build their career through delegation or training. It might mean taking the time to talk with them and help them understand how they are valued in the workplace. Whatever means you use, you need your people to be on your side if you want them to give it their all.
Deal with hostility
Sadly, one of the problems you’re likely to face isn’t down to how the business operates. It might instead be all about very real human politics and how well people tend to mesh together. Dealing with hostile work environments can be a tricky task, and often need the help or a consultant. But the first step is recognising and addressing the problem. Spot the signs of hostility and start managing reasonable, non-punitive communication with those involved. If it’s a workload problem or a miscommunication issue, that is easily fixed. Dealing with toxic employees might require slightly more drastic measures. That’s why it’s a good idea to record all communication around the event and get a consultant, so you’re keeping compliant with all the best practices an employer should.
Watch for burnout
You might have an employee that’s causing no problems and dealing with their workload well, even surprisingly well. But just how much is that employee taking on? If you were to review their work, would you be able to recognise the signs of a good work-life balance? Even if they’re willing to take on more overtime, you should watch that you’re not asking anyone to take on too much. Besides giving them a higher level of stress in their day-to-day, it puts them at more risk of burning out completely, which could be disastrous for both them and the business.
The question of accountability
How you handle accountability as a boss can be complicated if you’re trying to deal with it as an emotional issue. Instead, use data to make it a lot clear-cut and dry. When you’re setting goals and demands for employees, make sure you’re using SMART goals so that they’re measurable and reasonable. Use key performance indicators to measure their productivity instead of making blanket assumptions about the kind of work that they’re doing. If they’re having problems with their goals or their workload, then talk with them privately. Frame it as trying to find a solution. Don’t avoid holding them accountable only because you don’t want to rock the boat. If they need some criticism or a warning, then you have to give it to them. Otherwise, others will see they’re getting less done and it will create a worse work environment.
Managing people can be one of the most challenging parts of running a business, but it can also be the most rewarding. Get it right and you’ll have a loyal team of able and engaged individuals you can rely on. Get it wrong, however, and you won’t have much luck going forward.
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