Archive for January, 2012

Why Should I Share Critical Business Information with my Employees?

You’ve worked very hard to build your business and finally your hard work is starting to pay off in terms of income and profit.  But, unless you are a sole proprietor with no employees or contractors, is that success just the result of your work?  What about your employees?  What have they contributed?  And how could you get them to contribute more?

Rather than hiding information about business outcomes, try putting them out there for everyone to see. Here are some ideas:

• Create a display highlighting key results that support your business goals.  Depending on the type of business, this could be total sales dollars by month or quarter,  number of customers acquired, productivity/ number of defects per widget or any other key indicator.  Whatever you choose needs to be easily visible to all employees, so put it where they can see it.

• Incorporate these key indicators into employee communications and challenge them to do better.  For example “Our defect rate last month was X per widget.  In order to keep ahead of our competition, we need to reduce that by 50% over the next 3 months.”

• This is the hard part:  when an employee says “I have an idea that will reduce our defect rate” LISTEN.  Then work with any willing party to assess, refine, and implement the idea.

• Finally, recognize and communicate successes.  Be transparent about the resulting cost and time savings.  If an idea results in significant improvement, perhaps a bonus is in order.  After all, it’s not all about you, right?

Sharing business information for the purpose of improving the business can encourage your employees to think critically and creatively about their contribution.   In so doing, they move beyond the “employee” role into a “partner” role for the benefit of all.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity.  For more information, visit her web site or call her at 614-395-9440.

Are Your People Employees or Business Partners?

Does it seem like you are taking on more and more of what you hired people to do?  Are you handing out paychecks and wondering what value you are getting?  If so, you need to help your staff move from an “employee” mentality to a “business partner”  who is engaged in improving the business.

The first step in this process is to step back and look at what you (yes you!) are doing that allows your employees to stop doing things they were hired to do.    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

• Are you a perfectionist for whom nothing is ever good enough so you are the only one who can do the job right?

• Do you always clarify why you are asking an employee to do something and what the expected outcome is?

• Are you quick to correct mistakes but slow to praise when someone goes “above and beyond?”

If any of these apply to you, you will need to modify your behavior before you expect your employees to modify theirs.

The next step is to share business plans and challenges with your employees on a regular basis.  And, ask them for their help in creating solutions to the challenges.  Even if you don’t fully implement a suggestion, the employee knows they have been heard and will be more likely to step up to the plate next time.

The final step is to be transparent about what is costs to run your business and engage employees in a conversation about how they can reduce costs and increase profits.  More about that next time.

Sharon Hamersley is Principal of Keys to Performance, Your Resource for Workplace Productivity. Sharon helps businesses hire, train and retain outstanding employees and create workplaces where everyone can do their best work.  For more information, visit her web site or call her at 614-395-9440