Budgets are lean these days. Maybe you have had to pare back your staff to a bare minimum or maybe you’re just looking for new ideas about how to get more from your employees. If so, you can still reach your goals with a smaller team. How? Communication, communication, communication.
How to make the best use of small teams for overall business growth
When you rely on a small team to help grow your business, you want to get as much value as you can from each employee.
First of all, let them know you want their input. Ultimately, final decisions are yours but if you don’t ask, you might be missing out on some good ideas. Besides, your team is enhanced when recognized for good input.
Your team members see the small details of your company’s operation every day. Tap into their knowledge. Ask them to keep a list of their ideas and schedule time to hear about them.
How do they think the company could be more profitable? How do they envision the future for the company? Have they noticed new trends that could fit with the company’s mission?
Encourage your employees to think like an owner. Share with them about company expenses to encourage them not to be wasteful. Ask them to think like clients and offer solutions that your company can provide.
Two other ways to get the most from your small team are to cross train your employees and have them work split shifts.
- Cross training – Within a small company there should be some overlap in skills. If someone is out sick, another team member can step in and keep projects on track. Ideally, each position should have at least two people who know how to do that job. When employees keep good notes as they work, their colleagues can continue the project as needed.
- Split shifts – With split shifts every employee works a set number of hours, but some start later and then go home later. This way you get more productive hours out of every day with the same number of employees. You can offer your clients longer customer service hours or get more accomplished on each daily project.
Finally, small teams usually interact with each other often, so your employees will perform better if they enjoy their co-workers. Be aware of how teams are collaborating. If you hire someone who has a bad attitude and you see they diminish the mood in the office, give them an opportunity to correct the situation. However, if the negative habits continue, you might consider letting them go before they cause others to leave.
Did you know that most employees value regular feedback just as much as their paycheck? Even if you can’t afford to give them a raise, sitting down to have a formal review of their progress is always a good idea. If they are doing a good job, they want to hear that and will likely go on to do fine work.
If they are not performing well, you can protect your company from a lawsuit with good documentation. Whether employees are performing well or not, don’t wait to tell them only once a year. To best serve your organization’s needs, employees need regular feedback.
If you’re giving your employees all of this feedback, why do you need to have an annual review? Annual reviews are a good time to help you and your employees plan for their future at your company.
To keep it simple, you can ask them to come to the meeting and share their three strengths, three weaknesses, and three goals for their career. Share your goals for the company and ask how they can contribute in advancing those goals. Ask what additional training they might need. An annual review is a conversation. Avoid doing all the talking and listen.
When you do have to let an employee go
The most important thing about firing an employee is to have several documents detailing their errors and signed by the employee. The firing should not come as a surprise. Meet with the employee as the errors are occurring. Explain what they are doing wrong and how they can improve.
Remember, you already have a significant investment of time and money in this person. If you can help them improve, you will save yourself the time and cost of replacing them.
Stay calm and be professional. Don’t fire someone in the heat of the moment. This can cause them to retaliate with negative social media posts or even a lawsuit. Conduct the termination meeting in person and have notes to make sure you cover everything. You can also show them copies of their prior performance meetings. If they haven’t been able to improve, they may be confused as to why they are being let go. Keep your explanation clear and simple.
Managing your employees from the start, even with a small team will ensure a reliable process that will benefit you, as a leader, and each team member.