There’s a special place in heaven reserved for female entrepreneurs. What better way to smash the glass ceiling and address the fundamental inequalities of the work place (like the gender pay gap which could take centuries to close) than by striking out on your own? You have established your own business, which means that you can now play by your own set of rules. You can build a workplace culture that reflects your values and brings out the personal qualities that you feel bring out the best in your workforce. Not only are you working tirelessly to address the fundamental inequalities and inequities of the world of work, you’re blazing a trail for the young women and girls who are trying to make it behind you. Your strength, courage and leadership will show them that they can achieve their dreams by going into business for themselves too!
Yet, as dynamic, resourceful and all round awesome as you are, you’d be the first to admit that you’d be nowhere without your team. You may be the one who established the ideals and standards of your enterprise but these bright and hard working women and men work tirelessly to enforce them. But without the correct leadership, culture and incentives structure, it’s only a matter of time before a combination of fatigue, boredom and apathy lead them to let their (and your) standards slip. Sure, there are ways to re-establish your standards and return them to what you’ve come to expect but this will inevitably come at the cost of morale. Your hope lies in building the right infrastructure into your business to ensure that you don’t just have a workforce… You have a superteam!
Use only the finest candidates
It’s impossible to build a sturdy house out of inferior materials, just as it’s impossible to make a delicious meal with rotten ingredients. Your employees are intrinsic to your business’ success, so the recipe for a super team starts with super candidates. Of course, they won’t stay super unless you provide a framework for them to do so, but it’s far easier to do this when you have top tier candidates on your payroll. This means that you need to invest time, effort and capital in getting the best candidates to help you build your business.
Of course this starts with offering candidates a competitive salary. While new entrepreneurs are often squeamish about overhead costs (of which employee salaries are often among the biggest), you can’t build a great team if you’re not prepared to pay top dollar for them. But most top-tier candidates are not motivated solely by money. They want to work for someone who makes a difference which is why it’s crucial that your workplace culture is attractive to prospective candidates.
This is why you should go into the recruitment process with a clear idea of what you want from each and every candidate. This must encompass not only skills, education and prior experience but personality traits and attributes. But while entrepreneurs may have the perfect image of a candidate in their minds it can be difficult to translate this into a person specification and job description. Thus, it’s a good idea to work collaboratively with an outsourced HR provider to help you to create job ads that will attract the exact kinds of candidates that will help your enterprise grow from strength to strength.
Build a strong brand
Most entrepreneurs know the importance of branding. But branding is more than a beautifully designed logo and an elegant header sitting atop your homepage. It’s the distillation of all the ideals, attitudes and values that make your business what it is. It’s what make your customers and clients gravitate towards your business at the expense of your legions of competitors. It should make a promise to them and represent a set of standards and a kind of experience that they should expect each and every time they use your business. It needs to be represented not just in the color scheme and decor of your premises but in every aspect of your business’ operations. Hence, your employees need to be indoctrinated into your brand and have a clear understanding of how your brand pertains to your expectations of them. Get branding right and you’ll find that your employees will rally behind it. They’ll embody the values of your brand with pride and gusto, because they have a sense of ownership of your brand.
Create a culture that values and rewards teamwork, effort and dedication
As important as it is for your customers to see and feel the values behind your mission statement and your brand at work in their experience with your business, it’s just as important that your employees see them reflected in the culture of the workplace. The tricky thing about building a workplace culture is that it’s kind of hard to enforce. For it to work, your employees need to embrace and embody it of their own volition.
Leading by example is one of the best ways in which to set the standards of a workplace culture. Your employees are unlikely to go the extra mile, make time for others or rigorously maintain quality control if they don’t see you doing those things yourself. You should also incentivize the kind of behaviors you want to engender. For example, while an individualized bonus scheme might lead to excellence on the part of individuals, it may not be conducive to a solid teamwork ethic. Indeed, it may well do the opposite. Employees may actively hinder their colleagues if it means they get to the top of the leaderboard month after month. This is why it’s a good idea to accompany individual incentives with team based incentives. For example, individual sales professionals may be allowed a certain monetary bonus for sales, but this can only be achieved if each and every member of the team hits their sales targets. This encourages employees not only to bring their A game each and every day, but to help their colleagues to be the best that they can be too!
Always be training
Never underestimate the importance of training in maintaining standards and ensuring consistent performance. It’s a sad inevitability that even if they come out swinging on their first day, even the most diligent employees begin to flag over time. Employees get tired, they get out of their depth, they forget proper procedures and protocols and every now and then they’ll just have a bad day. These things are inevitable but regular training can help to mitigate their effects on your business’ performance and the culture of the workplace.
Not only does regular training imbue your team with new skills and abilities that will help to boost their productivity and progress professionally, it prevents them from resting on their laurels. Team members who are well trained and developed tend to express a desire to put their training into practice for the betterment of their careers and working experience. Moreover, if employees are regularly trained and developed, they feel valued. They know that you see them as an individual and not just a tool to be utilized to grow your business and your personal wealth. Empowering your employees in this way is one of the surest ways to bring out the best in them.
Set realistic yet challenging goals
Most sales professionals and customer facing staff members are accustomed to working towards targets and earning performance related pay. Nonetheless, there’s no reason why all employees shouldn’t have goal mapping and target setting baked into the crust of their continuing professional development. Goal setting is one of the most important aspects of your business. It’s what will help you grow sustainably from strength to strength, ensuring that you’re able to meet tomorrow’s challenges with the same foresight and vigor as you meet today’s. Each and every member of your team should have job specific and person specific goals which are revisited on a monthly or quarterly basis to help them to remain challenged, valued and rewarded at work.
Work with your team to implement strategies to help them meet their targets
Of course, it’s not just enough for you to set targets for employees, you have to provide the infrastructure for them to meet those targets. Thus, you need to work with each and every one of them to develop strategies that are attuned to their strengths and areas for development. Use this article on How To Create A Staff Scheduling Template to help them manage their time more effectively. Adopt a trial and error approach to different sales techniques to drive sales volume. Work together to produce a more efficient script for inbound customer service enquiries. If you help them on their way to their targets they’ll feel that they’re much more reasonable and achievable.
Finally… Listen to them!
As great as your ideas are, you’re not infallible. Your team could be sitting on ideas that could represent a new dawn for your enterprise. That’s why it’s vitally important that they have a forum to make their voices heard. Keep an open door policy, use a suggestions box. Set up a dedicated space on your intranet. When your employees feel like their ideas are heard and valued, they will undoubtedly shine for you!