Sydney Morning Herald

By March 25, 2012 Articles No Comments

 PDF_LogoLoyal and Productive Employees

It’s just commonsense. If you want your small business to thrive, it helps to have employees who are happy and motivated. They will be more productive, inspire confident in clients and free you up to chase new business opportunities.

If you think your team could be communicating better and working more efficiently, it may be time to consider doing something about it, including seeking professional help. Just ask Emma Isaacs, the head of Business Chicks, a women’s networking group. To help improve her business, she employed a training and coaching company to provide a year of ongoing strategic planning sessions and coaching for her team of 11 staff.

“I’m a firm believer in investing in our team members for various forms of training seminars and workshops”, she says. “The training is not only beneficial to the business but also for the professional development for the guys on the team.” The training, provided by Shirlaws, helped the staff understand how their daily tasks and responsibilities were building the longer term vision of the company. “It’s all about alignment – when you are so busy on the day to day, it’s really hard to keep your eye on the strategic goal. We try and pull ourselves out of the doing and into the thinking.”

The chief executive of emotional intelligence consultancy Roche Martin, Dr Martyn Newman, says business owners need to develop leadership skills that enable them to inspire their staff. “Everyone who works in a small business is essentially required to generate entrepreneurial energy – where everyone is committed and inspired to tap info their own abilities. In small business there can be no passengers. A successful business leader will drive that energy by creating an optimistic and goals oriented culture,” Newman says.

“The big challenge for entrepreneurial leaders in a small business is to create the right vision that inspires people to want to follow it,” he says. “And the question is, ’Is your vision of the business sufficiently inspiring to attract people to take the risk necessary to go with you into the uncertain future?’ To that extent, it really is about the character and competence of the leader. It’s about passion – and it’s contagious”. Newman’s book, titles Emotional Capitalists, outlines seven skills of successful leaders and provides tips of how to enhance and development: self reliance, assertiveness, optimism, self-confidence, relationship skills, self actualisation and empathy.

The executive director of coaching and training company InnerCents, Meiron Lees, works with small business owners in leadership development and stress management areas. Lees says that when managers approach him seeking ways to improve their staff’s motivation, performance or the workplace culture, he often asks them to reframe their question. “People who want to focus on problem solving normally focus on the problem – at best they reduce the problem, not eliminate it,” Lees says. I suggest instead to focus on the desired result they want to create. “If we want to create harmony and collaboration, ask what would it take to get there and what do each of the parties need to do to get there. That’s a powerful pathway to conflict resolution, rather than problem-solving.”

Lees encourages business leader to get to know their employees and to focus on mutually beneficial outcomes for staff and the organisation alike. He says the most effective way to achieve this is through regular informal and transparent meetings with staff. Lees says a ’contribution review’ should include a discussion of what employees have done well, how they might improve their productivity, goal setting for the coming weeks and letting employees know you will be there to support them in achieving these outcomes.

“A lot of employers forget that individual employees have a personal vision too,” he says. “We need to know what that vision is, when we’re tapping into what inspires people, then you’ll get loyalty, motivation and productivity.”

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