How to Really Grow Your Business

Without much doubt, the biggest challenge for small business owners is being a “boss”. It’s difficult because no one really teaches us the skills required to create an effective team of people who represent the company like we do.

Most of us go through person after person, or give up and do everything ourselves. Those who must have employees are often unsatisfied with their performance, but unsure what to do about it. Many end up feeling like they work for the people they employ because it’s easier than “fighting” with them. The end result is that owners work far too many hours and limit their company’s growth because they cannot find a solution.

Here are some vital ingredients to building a team of productive people who will represent your company like they owned it.

Hire a personality, not a skill

By far the most important choice in hiring is finding someone who is correct for the job. In custom framing, we have two main types of jobs- selling and producing. Selling requires having people skills. Good sales people like being around other people- they build relationships easily. They smile and have a pleasant demeanor. Production people perform best if they enjoy tasks that don’t require personal interaction. Their ability to concentrate on a project is more important than socializing. We all know people who can perform both fairly well. However, it’s important to realize what trait is most important to your company when hiring someone to fill a position. Here’s something that may help. People who enjoy working with others generally ask more questions and are easier to converse with. Task oriented people tend to tell you things more than ask and they are much more difficult to get to know.

Give them what they need

By the end of the first 90 days, new hires should know everything they need to be successful. They should be shown your company’s approved method to do everything. They should know answers to common questions and be able to confidently interact with customers. Proper training doesn’t come from “learning on the job.” It also doesn’t happen as the trainer remembers something important. Proper training is no accident. It’s the result of a meticulous strategy to introduce new hires to every phase of the business from answering phones, to greeting customers, to using the computer and more. Training a new team member requires a plan which presets the sequence of learning for each of the initial 12 weeks of their employment. It involves describing proper methods of providing customer service and includes periodic testing to see if the trainee is retaining all this vital information.

Training tools which create the consistency necessary for building an effective team include a company manual which outlines every policy and procedure expected from all team members. In addition to the general company manual, a training guide for each specific department needs to be created. These written tools should be in the hands of every new trainee during their 90 day training program. Once they have been taught certain procedures, the trainee should be instructed to find answers to their questions in the manual rather than just asking the trainer. This teaches them to relay on these tools and to be self-sufficient.

Invest in a team to create a company that serves customers

There is probably nothing more important to growing a great team environment than understanding YOUR role as the owner or manager. The reason so many leaders have difficulty with those who work with them is because they fail to understand the essence of the relationship. Most managers believe that employees are there to do what they are told. They want those employees to make work life “easier” for them. That attitude is the reason why so many have difficulty finding people who will treat the customers correctly or show any concern for the company. The truth is that if you want a team that serves the customer in an excellent manner, YOU must serve the team! If you want to have your employees offer great service to customers, you must make that possible by giving your them everything they need to be successful in providing great service.

Proper training is the first thing you give them. Without proper training- the ability to have the answers the customers need, employees look bad in front of customers. When they look bad, they feel bad about their performance and the result is a lack of desire to remain on the job. Ever notice employees that have to ask the manager for answers to the most basic of questions? They work for a manager who is not giving them what they need to be successful.

Give authority, get back accountability

The most common problem managers have with their team members is getting them to perform in a more effective manner. Almost every manager I visit with tells me that they wish this person would stop doing this or start doing that. When I ask if that team member has ever been given the authority necessary to be responsible for this area of performance, most managers just ask what I’m talking about. But the truth is, unless you have an agreement with someone- unless that person understands that they have the responsibility for something, they cannot be held accountable for their performance! If you think it is implied, then you are mistaken and will be experiencing a lot of frustrating miscommunication. Areas of responsibility only receive proper performance when that person is given authority in writing. By accepting that responsibility then and only then do they become accountable.  Accountability is the glue that holds team performance together. You as the manager are accountable to the team- you must give them all they need to be successful. You must invest in them to help them be the best they can be.

That means you must talk to them when their performance could be better. It’s not optional- it’s your responsibility. Here’s a tip to make this type of investment easier to do. Never give any feedback to a team member when you are angry. Why? Because the feedback you offer will be given to make you feel better- not help them perform better. If your sole objective is to give constructive criticism which helps a team member’s performance, you will be much more successful in serving your team and they will respond in a more positive manner. One more thing. Practice catching your team doing things right.  By keeping your eye out for the good things they do instead of looking for the bad things, you will be encouraging great behavior and building better relationships.

Being a “boss” is the hardest thing you will ever do in business. You can spend a career fighting the people you work with or simply deciding to do everything yourself. Those choices however will rob you of a chance to learn some amazing things about what team members really respond to. If you decide to take that path, it will change your life – and it won’t be bad for your business either.

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