Human Resources and Small Business & Startups

Are you engaged in your business?

January 3, 2014
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When you started the business, it was just you.

You sold it, you made it and you shipped it. You were the sales, production and the customer service departments. You should have had three, maybe more, business cards with different titles.

Now, if you’ve done things right, you have grown, hired additional staff and delegated some of your daily duties.

So now things start cropping up like quality issues, customer complaints, fires keep popping up and you just can’t figure out what the problem is.

You are losing your instincts and the control that you once had with the business. You aren’t enjoying these surprises every day, and the business isn’t fun anymore.

So what happened?

Well, you have, like many others, gotten separated from the day-to-day operations of your business, and in the process, you have lost control.

The solution is?

Step 1: You need to get closer to those employees who are on the front line. Another way to say this is, “You need to be able to see the forest through the trees.” And the people who are the closest to the undergrowth of your “forest” are the people on the front line. You have a different vantage point than the people who are really seeing the issues first hand. You can survey them, interview them — whatever it takes to hear them. Then you need to listen. Really listen to what they’re saying about the issue, and foster a culture of encouraging that feedback. Send the right message and have someone in the office visually track and update the status of suggestions. Otherwise, the funnel of feedback will suddenly stop.

Step 2: Get employees involved in the solution. Instead of taking the problem back to your office and coming back with the “Superman Solution,” find a champion or two in the organization who can really get to the core issue, suggest solutions and, most importantly, implement the solution. You need buy in and support. For employees, being part of a solution is most likely fun for them. It is one thing to do the same job day in, day out, but when employees are asked to help solve an issue, this has been found to be very important in retaining the best employees.

Step 3: Now that you have the problem surrounded, don’t forget the change to the process: document it, train it, reinforce it and give it a name, so that everyone is speaking the same language.

This is the beginning and the heart of growing your company and really getting it to run — rather than it running you. Enjoy.

This post is based on the Breakthrough Book and ManageHub.

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