Running a small business is hard work. Running a small business like a well-oiled machine? That’s even harder. Although large and mature organizations are not always run with efficiency and regard for their employees, there are many that do it very well. Small-to-midsize businesses can look to some of these better-run companies as an example for how to manage themselves and their people, as the good ones often put a lot of effort into getting it right.
It’s true that larger businesses often have the advantage of manpower and well-defined departmental organization. Within those departments there are usually enough people to pick up the slack if an employee is sick or leaves the organization. However, the quantity of employees is not the secret weapon. Check out the three tips below to learn how to implement mature organizational strategies while maintaining the agility and flexibility of a small business.
1. Develop a strategic plan
Creating a strategic plan will help any size business to reach its potential. A strategic plan enables businesses to have a roadmap to follow when issues arise and will provide guidance to your people on what needs to be done to stay on track.
When determining objectives in your strategic plan, it’s important to think about the needs of both your customers and employees. These groups are the ones who will ultimately bring success or failure to your business. Incorporating their ideas and perspectives will make sure that the solutions you come up with are catered towards meeting the objectives that correlate well with your customer base, not to mention improving overall employee morale and productivity. Your small business can benefit just as much from a strategic plan as a larger business if given proper attention and effort.
The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to assess where you want your company to go, and what you need to do in order to get there. Strategic planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and years-long task. Begin with identifying your strategic goals for the year. Once those goals are identified, communicating them to your entire staff is key. Doing so creates both ownership and engagement from everyone within the team, which increases the odds of achieving those objectives by the end of the year. So ask yourself: What strategic goals will help move my business forward? Once you have an answer, let everyone know and work together as a team to bring it all together!
2. Own your mistakes
Owning your mistakes is a crucial part of becoming a better organization and a better leader. Taking responsibility for what may have gone wrong in the past allows you to fix things and make improvements, leading to strong positive results in the future. It is imperative to be unbiased and genuine when evaluating what facets of your business need fixing. This is because the changes you make (and don’t make) will influence how people perceive the company positively or negatively moving forward. Being clear about where errors were made and being open about any shortcomings will cultivate an atmosphere of trust between customers and employees allowing for successful collaborations and partnerships.
Take the example of Domino’s Pizza. In the mid-2000s the company was struggling to grow and stay relevant. Instead of digging in their heels and becoming entrenched in their old ways, Dominos hired a new CEO who helped reinvigorate the company, from its branding to its technology. They embraced customer criticisms: “worst pizza I ever had”; “the sauce tastes like ketchup”; “the crust tastes like cardboard.” They made it their mission to fix that, but the company’s foundational purpose (making and delivering pizza) remained the same. Management reassessed the company mindset and the pathways it was taking to meet that purpose.
Setting goals and creating strategic plans doesn’t mean changing the foundational purpose of your business. It means evaluating the ways that you’re not meeting that purpose, acknowledging them, and developing new and creative ways to reach your full potential.
3. Do the right thing
We recently heard a story from a woman named Emily. Emily was asked to provide care for her elderly relative while the woman’s primary caregiver, also a relative, was having surgery. Unfortunately, the dates coincided with her a major in-person client presentation. Emily was nervous about asking for the time off, recognizing the importance of the meeting. Her direct boss gave a provisional ‘yes’ to Emily’s request, but ran it up to the CEO just to make sure it was okay. The CEO also gave a ‘yes’ without hesitation, telling Emily that family was more important than any meeting or strategic plan. This response grew Emily’s commitment to the company. She is a loyal employee and is proud to work for an organization that maintains perspective and strives to do the right thing for its employees.
By recognizing that Emily had a world outside of work, her company demonstrated their commitment to the well-being of their employees. Their understanding of her need to provide care for her family showed them to be kind and compassionate, but it also showcased their responsibility to the values they have defined. Through this example, it is clear that by making considerations for the personal lives and situations of employees–even if it means having to sacrifice an all-hands meeting–companies can progress toward a healthier working environment. This positive attitude can result in improved morale amongst workers and an improved working atmosphere overall.
When companies make “doing the right thing” a part of their mantra, employees and customers will reciprocate that back to the company. Unfortunately, the predominant corporate mandate right now is for shortsighted, profit-driven success. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with profits, but what many executive teams fail to recognize is that doing right by your people, both your employees and your customers is the best path to long-term, sustainable growth.
Small HR changes can lead to big success
Getting a small business to run like a well oiled machine isn’t always easy, but doing a few small things on the HR side can improve how your employees and customers view your company and your leadership team. Setting goals, owning mistakes, and doing the right thing are minor adjustments in the grand scheme of running a business, but their impacts on employee satisfaction and business efficiency will always be beneficial to you and your people.
If you need help thinking about how to approach all of this, or if you think it’s all just way over your head, call FBC to talk. Together, we can design an HR strategy that will help your small business run like a mature functioning organization — and maybe even get you on the road to becoming one yourself.