Business is a creative process. It is all about the strategy; how you get into the market, find paying customers, efficiently deliver your product or service, and keep the administrative burden under control. Business owners spend hours thinking about these problems and planning for implementing their solutions.
When you're just a small business, perhaps with just you and a business partner, then it is OK for you to own the plan and build your own task list. Of course, you have to. You have to create it, own it, and implement it. That's why starting a business is hard.
As your business grows and you build a team, then things seem to get harder. It's ironic, you thought that once you got help then things would get easier for you. But for many business leaders, they don't.
You might feel that you have to own the plan, outline all the tasks, and control the implementation. That's the trap. The very thing that worked for you when you were small, now will work against you.
We often tell the story of putting the bins out. You get home from a busy day at work and as you pull into the driveway you remember that tomorrow is bin day. So you get out the car and go and get the bins and start wheeling them to the front verge. Just as you pass the kitchen window, you hear your 'significant other' yell, "can you put the bins out?" You're already doing it, but right at that moment, isn't putting the bins out now the last thing you now feel like doing?
The fact is, that we do not like being told what to do. We value our autonomy. It's a human thing. It's why so many business owners wanted to be their own boss in the first place! If that was you, then think about how you are doing things differently from where you came from. Do you want to create that same feeling for your own employees? Or would you like to have them feel like they are valuable contributors and give them a sense of ownership in the growth of the business?
For many employees, being told their tasks creates that same feeling of disempowerment and loss of autonomy. We are being told what to do - often when we are already doing it.
So, lets go back to you and your business plan. You know what you want to achieve. The key now is to engage others with their ideas on how to achieve it, rather than trying to control it and telling your team what to do.
CREATING ENGAGEMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Engagement comes when your team are given the opportunity to describe how they can contribute. The difference is important. Instead of telling them how to contribute, ask them how they will contribute. In doing this, you can transfer ownership of the tasks from you to them.
Create the environment where people can freely volunteer their accountability. It's an emotional commitment, not one generated in an employment or any other contract. It is more powerful, because ultimately it is their accountability to themselves, as much as it is their accountability to you.
You create this by communicating your plan in such a way that people can offer their discretionary effort. In making that offer, people are recognising their ability to contribute, and connecting that contribution to the business objectives. Rather than you having to tell your team what to do, your team can tell you what they can do.
We created our Proceed With Purpose Plan so that business leaders can develop their business strategy in a way that enables a more engaging way to communicate it and encourage team contribution and accountability.
By letting go of the need to own the implementation, and the need to tell others what they 'should' do to achieve the business objectives, you enable more brain power to solving your business problems and spread the accountability for action to your team.
We can also show you how to apply the same thinking to your job descriptions and managing your teams. When you move from telling to engaging, it frees you to focus on leading your business rather than worrying about whether the tasks have been done. You then move from working in it, to working on it.
It is probably the most inefficient process in business today. It's hard to think of any common business process that consumes so much time and energy, for such a high cost, for such a random result. Yep, recruiting sucks - for both employers and candidates.
For employers, there's hours spent sifting through applications doing little more than guessing whether each candidate's resumé is a true reflection of their capability. This is made harder when each resumé is in a different format, and they have potentially received hundreds of responses to their advertisement.
Online platforms haven't really helped, they've just monetised (for themselves) and entrenched the existing broken process. They've done little to really help employers find the best candidate, and absolutely nothing to make the process better for candidates.
For candidates, there's the guesswork of responding to what they think the employer is looking for, and then sending their application off to cyberspace - more often than not to never hear anything about it ever again.
Then there's the interview - for some candidates. They may not have been the lucky ones after all, as they're asked about their favourite colour, which animal they might be, what secrets they have, and a whole raft of other questions that are often insulting to their intelligence, and have absolutely nothing to do with how they will do the job. Then might come a 'personality' assessment. Really! As if most employers (or recruiters) are even qualified to interpret how the assessment might relate to the particular workplace.
For employers, they go through the interview process, identify the candidate, make the offer, only to find their candidate has accepted another position, leaves within the first week when they find the job isn't what they expected, or when they realise they don't have the skills the job requires. Then they often have to start the whole circus over again.
Do you smell the money burning? Let alone the raging frustration and untempered anxiety.
Now, if these were rare occurrences then we'd just say, "that's unlucky", but they're not! Every one of us has probably experienced this broken process exactly like this - as either an employer, a candidate, or both!
Let's change the game a little bit, so that we can make it work better for all of us.
7 TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OF A BROKEN PROCESS
How can we improve this? Employers, it starts with you! Here's how to improve your odds of making the broken jig-saw fit together to reveal the perfect candidate:
As your business grows, so does the need for robust HR systems and processes. Recruiting is a part of such a process, so it's useful to get expert help to implement reliable HR systems and reduce the stress of the finding the right people who can help you grow, and who can grow with you.
A reliable recruitment process is at the heart of employee engagement, so it's critical that your HR system applies the tips above, and delivers a process that your business can follow consistently.
So, you thought an employee satisfaction survey was going to be a good idea ...
Perhaps the results came out exactly as you expected, or perhaps you received a culture shock when you learnt that the expectations of your employees seemingly have no bounds. Even the new fruit bowl in the office kitchen has people complaining.
You may have tried weekly massages, a funky new couch, a game machine, stress balls, or even bean bags. Then you watched productivity stay exactly the same, employee satisfaction stay the same, and the office gossip continue along as normal.
It made no impact on poor performers. In fact it seemed to encourage them - to do less with more.
It could be funny, but we have these conversations with employers almost every day, and they aren't laughing.
Their best employees aren't laughing either, as the culture of the business - the way things are done around here - hasn't changed, and it seems to fight against them rather than make things effective for them.
So the problem isn't that you did a survey. The problem is that you asked about the wrong things, and that made the survey ineffective because it leaves you conflicted between the commercial needs of the business, and the seemingly unrealistic desires of your employees. In the worst cases, it may have enabled a culture of "them and us" to develop.
You asked "them" how they feel and what they want, and the message received was "what can you provide for us?"
A culture survey is different. It asks about the enablers and barriers to productivity and fulfilment. Most importantly, it asks you to identify the type of workplace you want to create and then identifies the gaps so that you have something meaningful to work with from the results.
It then enables a conversation - shoulder to shoulder - employer and employee together about making the workplace more productive, fulfilling and engaging.
AN EFFECTIVE CULTURE SURVEY
There are 5 features of an effective employee survey:
Our clients use a culture survey as an effective tool for understanding the enablers and barriers to a productive and fulfilling workplace, and for enabling rich conversations about genuine improvements. They use it to bring everyone onto the same page as to what their productive and fulfilling work place will look like.
We all know how hard it is to be the "newbie". It's a new workplace and everything and everyone is unknown. It can feel awkward and daunting, and worse if your new colleagues treat you warily as the outsider who hasn't proven they fit-in yet.
Yes, that is what we see in so many workplaces. The new person must prove they fit in. What a horrible way to treat people.
Every employer we've met says they want to have engaged people who will stick around and grow with the business. Well, it starts with the induction. Yet we also know how few businesses have created a warm and welcoming induction process for when their new people join.
In some workplaces, the induction is all about safety, security, and compliance. It's time to make it what it should be - about engagement and participation.
We're being reminded of this ourselves this week. We've just moved into a new shared office, after years of working from home. So everything is new and a little bit daunting, but it has never felt awkward because we have a great support from Arthur, who goes out of his way to make us feel welcome and settled in our new 'home'.
We can all be like Arthur, then every new team member will be able to quickly move-on from feeling awkward and daunted - and do you know what? - most of them will actually fit-in!
In an article for Bonusly, George Dickson sited a study of over 1,000 workers which found that "31% reported having quit a job within the first six months. According to the research participants, the top reasons for leaving were a poor on boarding experience, a lack of clarity surrounding job duties and expectations, or a less than stellar boss ..."
Hmm, sounds familiar. The good news is that all of these factors are within the control of the business. So what could be done better?
IDEAS FOR MAKING A GREAT INDUCTION PROCESS
Some ideas you might like to consider are:
So, what about the rocket science? There isn't any, which makes it all the more puzzling as to why this just doesn't go right in so many businesses. It starts with having a clear and documented procedure that anyone can follow when new people join your business.
Doing all that you can to make people feel comfortable and important goes a long way to making their first few weeks the foundation for their great contribution. And then they can create the extraordinary.
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.