Saturday, 14 February 2009

Optimise Your Staff - 6 Tips

As we work our way through this period of economic challenge, business owners and managers, will be trying to focus on maintaining our customers and as much as possible growing our business. As we focus here, we may forget to recognise and value one of our main resources - our staff.

Your staff are your best asset to help you make it through this current climate and to deliver your business in excellent shape at the end of it. It is true that your staff can make or break your business. You need therefore to ensure that you optimise your staff so that they can help you grow your business.

Here are 6 tips to help you start working on this:

1. Job Descriptions

It is reported that up to 30% of businesses do not have Job Descriptions for their staff. Whether your business is large or small, this is an major requirement, not only from a legal point of view, but from the view of ensuring effectiveness and efficiency.

If you do not have job descriptions, how do you know that your staff are performing to their optimum? How will your staff know what they should be doing? How can you ensure that you are getting the best performance possible from your staff? and How are you setting standards?

Job descriptions will provide both you and your staff member with a clear and comprehensive list of duties, tasks and responsibilities with regards to what is required of them. Really - It tells staff what they are getting paid for! It will also help them to see how they fit into your business or organisation and how they can help you to ensure the success of your business and their jobs.

2. Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

An analysis of the skills, knowledge and ability (against the job description) of your staff will do many things. Here are few benefits:
  • Highlight any skill shortages;
  • Identify where the strength and weaknesses are within your staff group;
  • Indicate where and how you can improve your service to your customers and grow your business;
  • Indicate where to target your efforts to up skill your staff and improve their performance.

3. Performance Reviews

As human beings we all like to know how we are doing, even if this feedback is not always entirely as good as we would like. A performance review will enable you to indicate to your staff what they are doing well and not so well. It will help your staff see where they need to focus to improve and change.

Where they are doing well, it will encourage them to continue doing this. lt also provides an opportunity for your staff to give you some feedback and possibly some suggestions to making changes that might bring about improvements for our business. This feedback from your staff may also help to improve your performance too.

Many organisations provide at least a half yearly performance review. Doing this will keep your staff focused and performing at optimum levels. Performance Reviews do need to be properly managed and not just be tick box sessions. More forward thinking businesses have part of these reviews undertaken by external companies, as this can provide a more honest response in some cases.

4. Goal Setting

Goal setting is simply a form of setting goals or targets. This can be used as part of the performance review or as a separate exercise to help staff focus on what needs to be achieved or improved upon either on an individual level, team level or business wide.

Goal setting can help determine what each person can do to help the business survive, succeed and grow. If goals are develop and agreed by staff and management, they are more likely to be achieved.

5. Staff Training

Staff training is one of the first things to be trimmed or completed cut out when businesses begin to feel the pinch. However, it is at times like these that training is important as it ensures that all staff are capable, have the ability, skills and knowledge to do their job right first time round.

Having completed the TNA it is important that training is provided to assist your staff in achieving improved performance and efficiency. Training programmes can be developed that fit the specific requirements of your business and your staff or staff can complete courses which are prewritten and end with a qualification or not.

A useful form of training is Coaching and Mentoring. These need not be expensive, but may provide a more one to one approach when this is required, particularly when the issues are not related to knowledge, but to performance and improving skill.

6. Reward

Many managers think that financial reward is the only kind of reward that their staff want. However, this is not the truth. Many staff surveys have indicated that financial reward very rearly comes at the top of the list of things staff want from work. Although it needs to be noted that we all work for money to maintain a good standard of living for ourselves and our families. The benefit or satisfaction of an increase in salary is reported to last only approximately 4 months, at a maximum, before the individuals' expenditure has increased to the limits of the new amount.

Staff surveys also show that some of the things that staff value are respect, recognition, and good communication, to name just a few.

So if you are stuck for some ideas when you can not give bonuses or a rise in salary, here are a few that you can use:

  • A sincere 'thank you' for a job well done or for going beyond the call of duty (the extra mile);
  • Recognition for a job well done;
  • Recognition for a good idea or doing something that has helped the business or improved service; Recognition may just be to give credit by telling other members of staff what this individual as done, and recording this on the individuals personal file (do also give them a copy);
  • Giving more responsibility; delegation of appropriate tasks; or
  • Giving training, coaching or mentoring.

Giving this type of reward, when it is done in the correct way and for the right reasons, will have the knock on effect of raising the level of motivation and morale within your staff group, which in turn is likely to produce higher levels of loyalty, commitment, performance and productivity.

It is to the benefit and advantage of your business and you, to optimise your staff. Hopefully these points will give you a reminder or a place to start.

If you need help to optimise your staff performance and grow your business go to Get your free Business Health Check

This is an exert from the Managing Through The Recession Series by Sandra Pollock MCMI DipH

Tips - Developing People - Growing Your Business

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