In this, the third in a series of eight articles, we discuss the use of creative tools and assessments which will ensure you know and understand your staff (and they can understand you).
Once you understand your greatest asset you can be more effective at creating a highly productive, motivated and high performing team.
You should know your staff’s aims, fears, and hard wiring.
To follow in this 8 part series, are Breaking Down and Allocating Tasks, Performance Management, Assessment and Feedback, Work Environment and Rewards, Training and Conflict Resolution.
The more you understand about your staff strengths, the more you are able to focus their skills in those areas and team them up with other staff to cover their blind spots.
Understanding employee’s strengths allows you to give them the direction and input they need to be effective without wishing they were more like you or other employees.
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to” –Richard Branson
Give a Personality Test
One of the easier tests to use, and interpret the results, is the Meyers Briggs Test.
The results will give you the opportunity to make informed and objective choices about prospective employees based on their needs, motives and behavioural patterns.
When you are building your team you are placing strangers together and expecting them to form a bond which ensures their individual strengths are used to push the team forward.
Proper testing will ensure you are able to build a strong core team of individuals with complimentary yet diverse skills, interests and abilities.
Take an Employee satisfaction survey
Stop guessing, and actually ask your staff if they are happy.
Use employee surveys to check in regularly with employees about their satisfaction with their roles and responsibilities, the work environment, and their experiences with management.
Find out which benefits matter most to them, and what skills they wish to fine tune as they develop their careers and reach for their ultimate goals.
A well thought out employee satisfaction survey will help you to:
- Understand the company culture. Don’t wait until a sick company culture effects your business’ financial performance.
- Address benefits. Not all staff place the same value on flexi-time or gym membership as others, and there may be a better way to motivate your staff.
- Improve teamwork. People work best in teams, and to improve the performance of your teams you need to understand the dynamics of the individuals who form those teams.
- Improve satisfaction and productivity – do your staff have the tools they need to perform?
- Assess employees’ long term commitments. One of the biggest expenses is the loss of valued staff, and the re-training of someone who may not be as well suited to the role. A high staff turnover also effects morale and therefore the productivity staff who are left behind.
- Identify succession planning needs.
- Improve the work lives of all employees. Happy employees get more work done, and they get it done more effectively. Happy and productive employees generally have a good balance between their work and personal lives and you as the employer are ideally placed to help them achieve this without putting the business at risk.
- Retain happy employees who are satisfied and productive.
It is important for businesses to monitor and understand satisfaction levels this is directly related to how successfully they will perform their duties, how long they remain with you, and most importantly, the impact on the collective culture of the business.
Talk to your employees
It is amazing how much you can get to know about your team by just talking to them.
Block out some time for short one-on-one meetings with each of your direct reports.
If one or more of your staff are new to the team, this be the perfect opportunity to drill in and find out what could be vital information.
It is always useful to learn more about everyone’s backgrounds, and share about your own.
Ask about their history with the company, and about prior jobs, what they enjoy and what they desire, especially in terms of their eventual career goals.
Join a Project
Once you know your staff better you will be able to make decisions and changes strategically—with insight into what works and what doesn’t and a good idea of how your employees will react.
Spend a day with your staff members, shadowing them, and doing some of their tasks.
This will quickly help you to understand the ins and outs of their contribution to the business, the processes and team dynamics.
This can also be a super bonding experience, the truly revealing conversations happen while you are drying dishes with the kitchen staff.
Your staff will never forget that you do not consider their daily duties beneath you and will respect you for it.
Have an open door policy
You have to make it a priority to maintain consistent communication.
While formal one-on-one meetings are essential, the daily conversations are just as important.
The more comfortable your staff are in approaching you with questions or concerns the more likely you are to have your finger on the pulse of your business.
Help me to do it myself
The Montessori approach to schooling is “help me to do it myself”.
Being there as support, and guidance, and cheerleader, without taking the challenge away and destroying the child’s self-confidence and opportunity to learn.
In your business a challenging task can be resolved, by the staff members themselves, with your positive support. Your staff will walk away from each a little stronger and a little more confident and capable.
This will benefit your business in the long run.
Combined with an open door policy and open communication, you are building a team that can survive the toughest projects and deal with the most difficult clients, and thrive.
An open and constantly communicating environment encourages team work and support and will equip your staff to better handle issues themselves in time, without the need for your constant intervention and leave you free to focus on strategic, and income producing tasks in your business.
Your staff are your greatest asset but if you are not managing your asset properly you have no hope of succeeding. Without knowing each individual, you have no hope of putting together a successful team and remember ….