The Key to Business Success
By Robin Sumner, Managing Director, Romax
“Good Businesses have Good People, Great Businesses have Great People.”
Yadda Yadda Yadda – We all know that so what’s new?
Having run a business now for 20 years, I am in a reasonable position to comment on the positives and not so positive, when it comes to employing people. Entrepreneurs often have a very different drive and are less risk averse – a different type of motivation that is neither right or wrong. Everyone has a different outlook, depending on their current situation and needs. It is, therefore, an unfair expectation for an employer to have the same expectations of employees that they have of themselves. That does not mean that it is impossible to build a great team, motivated in the right way that leads to business success.
A not unreasonable assumption that my new business would not initially be a place where individuals would be banging the door down to get a job! Who would want to work for a risky start-up with no reputation and no long-term guarantees? Not being able to draw in the most experienced individuals to help me grow the business did not, however, prevent me from selecting good people.
It’s also worth noting, that the numbers of employees that actually started work for me but then left or were asked to leave sooner that one would expect, was based on a lack of process aimed at selecting the most suited to the job at that particular time, an affliction known to most start-up business.
For every 10 people that you filter through the employment process, only 10% of those will ‘fit’ your business perfectly. The first thing to remember is that no business is the perfect match for every potential employee. Some people will just not get along with you and your ethics (be they good ethics or not). Don’t judge them for that just accept them for those differences. The process of employment and the key to business success is to whittle out those individuals not suited to work with you before asking them to sign a contract.
Keep it clear, tell it straight and be fair. The proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand is not the way to manage people when you finally drag your head back out of the sand the issues will not only still be there, but if you’ve been avoiding those issues long enough will have expanded making the situation worse.
It’s integral to ensure that communication across the business is clear. The values of the business, the plans, ethics and direction that you are taking must be communicated and then communicated again. Sending a generic email stating a few bullet points won’t relay the passion or indeed drive the business forward.
It’s also important to remember that people need to be communicated with in various ways across various media – marketing your business internally not just externally.
Yammer – a great internal social media tool that we use as an online forum for praising good work, communicating change and generating an opinion.
‘Town Hall’ Meetings (staff room meetings or meetings around a desk with All Employees – should reinforce your business plan, these should be echoed across employee 1-2-1s.
Print it off and hand it to your team, review things and report back to them on progress. Everyone needs to know that their hard work is paying off. Even if things are not going as well as expected – this is when you should be communicating things more. Honesty has never failed me yet and sharing the good, the bad and sometimes the downright ugly with staff, as long as you have a plan to resolve it, will get them on side and help you achieve it.
Methods to feedback – The employee/employer relationship is a tightrope, you need to ensure that you are approachable so that feedback can be provided up and down the chain, but there must remain a defined mutual respect.
Having forums and discussions around major decisions in the business. Bring everyone into the process – many minds are better than 1, then make the decision based on that feedback, but explain the decision, it will not always be to everyone’s choice but having a voice that can be heard and respected is vital.
Good Fortune and Patience, combined with a good recruitment strategy and a degree of luck (although I prefer the term fate) do play a part in this process.
Why wouldn’t you want to work for me? That’s the question you should ask yourself, then find ways of countering that opinion and attracting those individuals that will help you grow. Striving for the best, and not accepting second best.
Shared Common Goals and Lunches.
When the directors are invited to join the production team for curry Friday. When the Business provides lunch for all or gives genuine recognition for a job well done. When everyone can sit down and talk with respect but without barriers to communication, or the fear of retribution, then you know the business will be meeting the needs of your clients, or at least ready and willing to!
Delegation is not always about passing on something that you don’t want to do, it should be about passing on the job to the person best suited, skilled or trained to complete it. Employing individuals better than you at a certain task is key to progression for the business as a whole.
Being far from perfect, I can only speak from personal experience and many failures. I continue to learn and constantly review my approach to business; Listen first – then Act.
Romax Marketing & Distribution, a Greenwich-London based company, provides a wide range of services in Direct Marketing for B2B and B2C, Direct Mail, Data Management, Printing, Discount Postage and Membership Communication Services and Consultancy. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 20 8293 8550