You've just been in a serious car accident. You've got massive internal injuries and a broken jaw. You're going to be in the hospital at least a month. Your jaw is wired shut so you can't use the phone. Will your business run easily and well while you recover? Will your customers be served while you are gone? If you've just experienced heart failure over this prospect, the following list is for you. The information below, if put into practice, will reduce your stress, increase your business' productivity, and give you the vacation you so richly deserve. Here's the top ten things you can do to make your business run as smoothly as possible.
1. Hire wisely.
Most businesses hire bodies for particular jobs rather than people to help build a future. Your business is only as good as each individual employee's contribution to its functioning. Therefore, look for the three i's when you hire: intelligence, initiative, and integrity. For every position, from receptionist to packing clerk, hire only the best you can find. Conversely, if you have current employees who are not performing well, consider whether they are a wise investment of your money.
2. Build a team, not your ego.
Many employers let their egos dominate their interactions with their employees. Stop the pattern. Instead, trust your employees to do their jobs. Make each employee feel that they are an invaluable member of the company team. Let each employee know they are an integral part of the company's end product. Set the example for positive interaction at all times between members of the team even when ideas or performance must be corrected.
3. Reward well.
When you get good employees, reward them financially and emotionally. Be sure their pay is at least at market rate. Take time often to acknowledge each employee's contribution. The two biggest loyalty builders are two simple words-- thank you.
4. Be hands on.
Know each employee's job and how to do it. This not only gives you an automatic reserve employee and trainer (yourself), but has an added bonus. If you show an employee that you are willing to learn or have learned his/her job, you are communicating that you believe their work has value. Every employee needs to know that whether they are emptying trash cans, setting the presses, or selling the large accounts, their work is worthwhile and valuable.
5. Make your employees versatile.
In a small company, every employee should know how to do at least two jobs, particularly on the technical and service sides. For critical tasks, at least three employees should know how to do each job. Thus, you always have an on-the-premises reserve who can step in when needed.
6. Give away tasks, but not ultimate leadership.
What is it you do best? Are you the idea man, the best salesman in your company, the organizer? Find your best talent and then delegate all other tasks to your employees. Train them appropriately to do their job, let them know you have confidence in their ability to perform well, and then let them do their jobs. Adding responsibility with confidence will increase your employee's willingness to work and their pride in the company's end result. At the same time, you must maintain ultimate leadership. In any well run ship, the captain makes final decisions and you are still the captain, albeit a benign one.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
You must talk with your employees, solicit their suggestions, and positively correct their mistakes. Conversely, you must create an atmosphere where employees are willing and able to talk with you. The two best sources of information on how your business is doing and how to improve it are your employees and your customers. Pay attention to both.
8. Give your best and always and encourage the same in your employees.
Pride in the company and its product or service always begins at the top. If you give a half effort or let a sloppily produced product go out the door to a client, you are sending a message to your employees that you do not respect your clients or your work. Your employees will adopt that view as well. If you set the example of giving the extra effort, pitching in when needed, caring about your fellow team members, working as a unit to be the best in your particular business, and taking care of the bottom line, your employees worth having and keeping will follow suit.
9. Encourage innovation and creation.
Give your employees a stake in the future. Once a month, have a meeting where the employees make suggestions on how to improve your product, service, efficiency, or bottom line. Give monetary rewards when the ideas produce increases to the bottom line. Give positive encouragement for the process.
10. Have a second in command.
No general goes into battle without a major who can take over if he is felled by a bullet. You are your business' general and must act accordingly. Find someone you trust within your company who has the same goals, ideals, and a similar business style. Train him/her appropriately. Let others know he/she has your confidence and authority when you are gone. When that is done, leave on vacation and test the theory out. If you have completed steps 1-9 above, your business will run easily and well and you will have regained a healthy balance in your life.
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