You have expectations of your employees, but have you considered that it’s a two-way street? Your employees have expectations of you, too. Understanding and being mindful of those expectations can go a long way toward earning your employees’ respect and trust. They’re also many of the same essential skills and practices that will help your business succeed.
Here are the top 10 things your employees expect you to know how to do to run a successful business:
1. Hire People
Every business is built on people. Optimally, you have a skilled team of good people who deliver their best, are a good fit in your company and further your business cause in a meaningful way. A team like this, whether of 2 or 200, begins with your hiring decisions.
“When looking for people, the most popular place to find candidates is referrals from your own people,” says Gene Marks, a small business expert, columnist and author. Friends, colleagues, competitors and industry conferences can also provide leads. Ultimately, though, he says hiring is an imperfect process.
“In the end, no matter what resume or experience a candidate has, you still have to make a gut call,” Marks says.
A trial period through a contract assignment or temporary services can help you evaluate a potential candidate before making a permanent commitment.
2. Fire People
Firing an employee is difficult to do but may be your only choice if performance is consistently below par, customers are complaining or workplace morale is suffering. Just be sure to handle the process fairly. Otherwise, there may be a legal price to pay.
“Remember, if you’re going to terminate an employee, you need to have your documentation in order,” Marks says. “You have to show an acceptable reason. The smartest business owners prepare and do this over a 60–90 day period of time.”
Firing should not come as a surprise. It should be the final step in a thoughtful process that begins with discussing the employee’s performance and your expectations for improvement. Follow up your initial conversation with subsequent review sessions, and be sure to document all of your interactions in the employee’s file. This documentation will be critical in the event of a lawsuit.
If you make the difficult decision to let an employee go, meet personally and be prepared to address logistical matters such as the end date, severance arrangements and benefits. Also remember that being fired is always a traumatic event in someone’s life. Bring your compassion into the room.
3. Provide Written Employee Guidelines
An employee handbook is a vital tool for sharing your expectations of your employees and what they can expect of you. It also sets forth the employee’s rights and your legal obligations as an employer. Topics typically range from compensation and overtime to benefits, leaves and terminations.
“Every employee should have an employee handbook,” Marks says. He also advises employers to revisit and re-distribute their handbook annually.
Typical topics for an employee manual include:
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Anti-Discrimination Policies
- Work Schedules
You should consult a lawyer when drafting your own employee handbook.
4. Insure Your Business Against Liability, Property Damage and Other Hazards
Your employees expect you to be able to protect your business in the event of loss. After all, their livelihoods are at stake. This is where insurance fits in.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance protects you and your employees when there’s an injury in the workplace. Workers’ comp coverage covers lost wages and medical care.
- General liability insurance protects your business from lawsuits and claims due to property damage, injuries and even acts such as slander and libel for which your business is allegedly responsible.
- Property insurance covers your building, whether it’s owned or leased, and your business’s personal property, including equipment, inventory, and furniture.
- Commercial auto insurance covers the financial costs of auto accidents if you or an employee is at fault. It is essential if your business owns, leases or rents vehicles or has employees who drive their own vehicles to conduct business.
- Coverage is also available for other hazards to which your business may be exposed, such flooding or data breach.
5. Train Them on Your Processes
Training costs money and takes time, but not training your employees can cost your business even more.
“My clients always overlook training,” Marks says. “It’s considered to be a throwaway, but it’s critical and should be part of every business’s annual budget.”
An established in-house training program will help your employees develop the skills they need to do the job well and learn the procedures that allow them do it efficiently. Provide checklists for routine tasks to minimize employee errors and yield more consistent results.
Marks also suggests bringing in a consultant on an annual basis to review your internal processes and provide training on any recommendations you choose to adopt.
6. Take Care of Workers Compensation
Most states require businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. This essential protection provides benefits for employees who are injured on the job or who contract work-related illnesses. Benefits include coverage for the cost of medical treatment, as well as compensation for wages lost during recovery and permanent disabilities that result from the injury.
7. Know When It’s OK to Micromanage and When It’s Not OK
Most of the time, micromanagement will work against you. Constantly hovering over, monitoring and correcting your employees not only slows progress, it also breeds dependency, stymies creative thinking and generates resentment in the long run. These are not beneficial qualities to cultivate in your workplace.
“I’ve learned that you focus on your best skills and let your employees do what they have to do,” says Marks. “You have to accept that employees will make mistakes and the only way to allow them to grow is to let them make mistakes. Build it into your business expenses.”
That said, there are a few times when micromanaging is necessary—and valued. If your operations are changing or expanding, your employees will appreciate some hand-holding until they know what they are doing. You may also need to intervene when work isn’t getting done or customers are complaining.
“Everything is to a degree,” Marks says. “You may need to intervene. You’re trying to avoid catastrophic mistakes.”
It’s up to you to determine what’s catastrophic for your business.
8. Help Them Set Goals
Goals are motivators, and they help you and your employees focus on what’s important for your business.
“Everyone should have goals they’re working toward,” Marks says. “Goal setting is about communication. I like to set quarterly goals, both quantitative or qualitative, and meet with people every quarter to get an update on their goals.”
The secret to setting goals that make a difference is to define your vision for your company and work collaboratively to help your employees set goals that align with that. Be sure their goals are measurable, relevant and attainable. Meet at regular intervals to review achievements and set new goals.
9. Compensate Them Fairly
Compensating your employees fairly and competitively can be tricky. Many factors play into the formula: the type of position, salary trends for the industry, and the employee’s years of experience and skills. Then of course, there’s what you can afford to pay.
But it’s often not just about the money.
“Compensation is changing,” Marks says. “I don’t think we’re just talking salary. Paid time off is a huge thing with the millennial generation. Having a good PTO policy will help recruit more people and keep them happy.”
Other forms of creative compensation include benefits and the title you assign to the job.
“Title is another way to compensate people,” according to Marks. “It’s all about feeling like you’re doing something worthwhile and are valued. Having a title is really helpful, particularly if you’ve earned it.”
10. Know How to Lead
Leadership is a skill. Some people come by it naturally, but it’s also a skill you can develop with dedicated practice. Strong leadership will motivate your employees and earn you their trust and confidence.
“It’s all by example,” Marks says. “Really, in the end, that describes a great leader. You never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself and you lead by example via your hard work, commitment and caring.”
Your ability to delegate, communicate, solve problems and sometimes make tough decisions will also earn your employees’ respect.
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